There has been lots of chatter lately about bitcoin, blockchain technology, and crypto-currency. Everyone, including me, is trying to wrap their head around it all. This is what I’ve come up with so far:
- Bitcoin is a virtual commodity that is created by running some obscure algorithm. The people who get rewarded are the “miners” who burn up enormous amounts of computer time and electricity to create Bitcoin. That makes it akin to mining gold or silver—not a very useful pursuit, and like any commodity, people will prefer to use it as a savings medium or hedge against inflation rather than circulating it as a currency. Bitcoin is NOT the answer to the money problem.
- The important thing about blockchain technology is what it can do, what functions it can perform. You hear a lot about “smart contracts” and a secure trail of transactions. It seems to be something that is needed when using digital forms of contracts and transactions conducted over the internet, but provides no new functions compared to what has always been done with paper trails and records, but maybe I’m missing something.
- The term “crypto-currency” is ill defined and there is much confusion about the characteristics of such a currency and what it can achieve.
- The fundamental principles of reciprocal exchange still hold. The substance of a currency or payment medium is CREDIT. Claims still need to be authenticated and promises need to be guaranteed.
My grand, audacious vision is this:
TO ENABLE ANYONE, ANYWHERE TO USE WHAT THEY HAVE TO PAY FOR WHAT THEY WANT.
What they might have is skills, abilities, products, services and credit that is advanced by a circle of people who know them and trust that they are ready, willing, and able to deliver value on demand in the near term.
I have argued that the truly disruptive technology of exchange is a global network of small credit-clearing circles that provide “a means of payment that is locally based and controlled yet globally useful. It makes money and banks, as we’ve known them, obsolete.
My talk in Malaysia in October at the International Forum on Inclusive Wealth (http://ifiw.my/) will be on that topic and will build upon the framework that I laid out in my book chapter, https://beyondmoney.net/excerpts/chapter-17-complete-web-based-trading-platform/. –t.h.g.
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Europe. I’ve booked my flight to Europe. I’ll be landing in Milan, Italy on 31 May, will remain there for 2 or 3 days, then travel onward to Athens, Volos, and Pelion.
As I mentioned in my January newsletter, I will be conducting a weeklong course in innovative finance, exchange, and economics from 24 June thru 1 July at the Alexandros campus of the Kaliklos Holistic Summer School. This collaborative and problem-centered course titled, Exchange and Finance for the New Economy: Principles and Practice, is intended to stimulate the development and deployment of community currencies, moneyless exchange system, and equitable finance, and is designed especially for social entrepreneurs, enthusiastic agents of change, government officials, and serious students who are ready to co-create a new sustainable and convivial economy from the bottom up. Besides learning and co-creation, courses at Kalikalos also provide participants with opportunities for community building, personal growth, and recreation.
I am excited to be returning again this year to Greece and to be working with course participants to achieve some truly revolutionary outcomes. We’d be pleased to have you join us.
Details about the course, fees, and booking are at http://www.kalikalos.org/exchange-finance. One or two bursaries may be available to qualified low income participants.
Greek participants are being offered (1) a discount of 33% on the full course, or (2) for those who are able to participate only on the weekend of 25/26 June, an invitation to do so on the basis of a free will offering.
Malaysia. I’ve accepted an invitation to speak in October at the International Forum on Inclusive Wealth (http://www.ifiw.my/) in Kuala Lumpur, Malaysia. The subject of my presentation will be a revolutionary plan for the creation of a global exchange network based on locally controlled credit clearing exchanges. This will be an elaboration of ideas I first laid out in a chapter of my 2009 book, The End of Money and the Future of Civilization.
The Panama Papers: The secrets of dirty money
The rich and powerful have for a very long time used shell companies and secret numbered bank accounts in tax haven countries to not only avoid taxes, but to hide their gains from illegal and immoral activities. Now, thanks to yet another courageous whistleblower, the general public is getting a glimpse into this world of hidden wealth and malfeasance.
The so-called Panama Papers that have recently been disclosed by the media were first delivered by an anonymous whistleblower about a year ago. Since then additional documents have been provided and the trove of data now consists of 11.5 million documents that total 2.6 terabytes of digital files. This leak is said to be a bigger bombshell than even Edward Snowden’s revelations of U.S. government’s spying on citizens and allies.
It will take a long time to sift through all that material but a few startling revelations have recently been made. I have to wonder though, why it has taken so long for any of the contents to be reported in the mainstream media, and why the initial focus has been on Russia, Iceland, and FIFA? Why have we not heard about names of any Americans turning up in these documents? Surely we have more than our share of crooks in the USA, the greatest of all tax havens. MSNBC has something to say about that, which you might want to read. I wonder, might something in these documents have implications for the 2016 Presidential election? Hey, you journalists, let’s get cracking on that.
If you wish to dig deeper into this matter, a good place to start is on the website of Süddeutsche Zeitung, http://panamapapers.sueddeutsche.de/en/.
Geopolitics—Why was Qaddafi murdered?
The US-NATO attacks on Libya and the overthrow of its government is by now old news, but very few people are aware of the real reasons behind the intervention. Ellen Brown, in a recent article, Exposing the Libyan Agenda: A Closer Look at Hillary’s Email, has done a good job of exposing the real agenda in Libya, and to the rest of the world for that matter. She concludes, “violent intervention was not chiefly about the security of the people. It was about the security of global banking, money and oil.” The fact is that anyone who is perceived to be a threat to the dominance of the global money and banking regime will be ridiculed, discredited, or eliminated.
Living in Community
As I grow old(er) I’m feeling the need to be a bit more settled than I’ve been in recent years. Although I’m in pretty good health and still independent, my nomadic lifestyle is becoming more difficult. I’m seeking to connect with others of like mind to invent new ways of aging together and supporting each others’ independence and whatever good work we still hope to accomplish. To that end I recently posted an ad on the Fellowship for Intentional Communities website. Here’s what I said:
We are seeking to organize a group of independent seniors (and maybe a younger or two) who are still actively engaged and working in various ways to make a better world. We don’t like, or cannot afford retirement homes. We think a better way is to cooperate and share in a cooperative household where we can have the privacy we need while working together and providing each other with companionship and support.
The community might be located anywhere but our focus right now is on Tucson and southern Arizona which offers a delightful climate, a relatively low cost of living, and all the amenities that one might desire. Large houses in this area can be leased for quite reasonable rents.
If you have any interest, please let me know at email@example.com.
Spring flowers and fragrant blossoms refresh my spirit, I hope they do the same for you,
Here is a comment I posted in response to an article, Donald Trump and the Ghost of Christopher Lasch: America’s yeoman class revolts, that appears in The American Conservative. –t.h.g.
Yes, there is a yeoman class revolt, but the characterization of the elite as “liberal” is in error. The elite class spans the socio-political spectrum. They have a hidden agenda which they advance by pandering to the sentiments of both social liberals (mainly by Democratic politicians) and social conservatives (mainly by Republican politicians), but both parties have been moving us inexorably toward a “new world order” that is anti-democratic and neo-feudal which concentrates ever more power and wealth in their own hands.
Their primary instrument of control is the global system of money, banking, and finance which they have constructed over a long period of time without any public debate, and with the help of politicians, academic economists, journalists, and others whom they have invited to the table to share the spoils.
Since the debt crisis of 2008, Americans of all classes and ideologies have finally begun to wake up to the facts that the game is rigged against them and that they have been manipulated and exploited by the Wall Street-Washington nexus. The next American revolution will happen when liberals and conservatives, Republicans and Democrats, Americans of all religions and races, stop being seduced by “hot-button” rhetoric and come to realize what their common interests are and are able to work in harmony toward the common good
Thomas H. Greco, Jr.
It has been said that “all TV is entertainment.” Whether a program is labeled “news” or a “candidates’ debate,” that characterization still applies. Well, the current Presidential campaign has sure been entertaining, with Donald Trump’s bombast and Bernie Sanders’ grandfatherly populism, in contrast to Hillary Clinton’s bland appeal to feminism and her (dubious) record of achievement.
Hillary is clearly the favorite of the establishment, the darling of Goldman Sachs and big corporate business, and the standard bearer for the status quo and continuation of Obama’s policies.
On the Republican side, it seems that no establishment candidate has so far been able to derail the Trump march toward the nomination. The last best hope for them at this point seems to be Ted Cruz. While Cruz has been trying to portray himself as being against the big banks, the fact is that his wife, Heidi, is an investment banker and a longtime employee of Goldman Sachs. Furthermore, his 2012 Senate campaign was financed in part by a sizeable loan from Goldman Sachs. For the details on all of this see John Cassidy’s New Yorker article at http://www.newyorker.com/news/john-cassidy/ted-cruzs-goldman-sachs-problem.
Despite the evident philosophical differences between Republicans and Democrats and the outdated characterization of political sentiments as being either right or left, conservative or liberal, the phenomenon of massive popular support for the two apparent anti-establishment candidates, Donald Trump and Bernie Sander, reflects a deeper concern that is shared amongst their supporters.
They are sick and tired of politics as usual and the course this country has been on for the past three decades.
They are sick and tired of:
- Politicians who promise one thing but deliver another.
- “Political correctness” that interferes with our ability to debate the deeper issues and concerns.
- The rich getting richer and ever more powerful while the middle class is being destroyed.
- Big banks that are “too big to fail” yet refuse to provide adequate financing to small local businesses.
- Legislation that favors big corporations over small and medium-sized enterprises.
- Fiscal policies that reduce taxes on corporations and the rich while forcing states and municipal governments to assume ever greater burdens.
- Trade agreements that cede power from sovereign governments to transnational corporations thus undermining democratic government, the rights of labor, and environmental protections.
- A disastrous foreign policy of interference in countries around the world that kills thousands of innocent people and stirs up hornet’s nests of resentment that manifest as massive displacements of people and acts of terror against the U.S. and its European NATO allies.
Can either Trump or Sanders, or anyone else for that matter, remedy any of those concerns from the White House? Given the present political structures and dynamics of power based on the control of money, that seems very unlikely. Reversing the destructive anti-democratic trends will take a massive popular movement, one that makes clear to people what their common interests are, and is able to get them to work in harmony toward common goals.
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Here is my comment on a recent article titled Krugman’s Craziness that appeared in the New York Sun. –t.h.g.
Very few people today, including prize-winning economists, possess a deep knowledge of the fundamental principles of reciprocal exchange, and most of those who do are committed to maintaining the global interest-based, debt-money regime that enables an elite few to control economies and governments worldwide.
In the wake of the 2008 financial meltdown and the ongoing economic crisis, more and more people are waking up to the fact that there is something seriously wrong with our systems of money, banking, and finance, but remain mystified by it and have no idea what to do about it.
Many are calling for reform of the system via the political process, and most reformers want a return to the gold standard and favor a government monopoly over the issuance of money. Clearly, new legislation is needed to reverse the trend toward ever greater centralization of power and concentration of wealth, but such measures have no hope of passing into law so long as the “money power” is able to buy politicians wholesale. Further, since money is a human contrivance that is supposed to facilitate the exchange of value (like goods, services, and various financial claims), people should be free to use whatever payment media they find mutually agreeable. Rather than monopoly of money, either bank-controlled or government-controlled, we need competition in currency. Let us have more freedom, not less.
There are solid precedents that prove the effectiveness of private and community currencies, as well as direct clearing of credits among buyers and sellers, a process that has the potential to make money as we’ve known it obsolete. Private initiative is presently bringing to market new and creative mechanisms of exchange and finance that have the power to bring about economic and financial stability, social harmony and a dignified life for all.
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Bernie has it right in trying to curb the enormous power of the banking establishment. As I’ve said many times, “Whoever controls the creation of money and the allocation of credit controls everything.” Bernie doesn’t go quite far enough but what he proposes is a good start. A recent article, Curbing the Influence of Big Banks: 3 Reforms proposed by Sanders, by Deena Zaidi outlines the Sanders plan:
- Break up the big banks so that no bank is “too big to fail.”
- Reinstating the Glass-Steagall Act which for decades prevented “investment banks” from combining with “commercial banks.”
- Reducing conflicts of interest at the Fed.
Read the full article here.
My upcoming course, Exchange and Finance for the New Economy: Principles and Practice.
LEARN * WORK * PLAY
Come to Greece next summer to participate in my week-long course
in innovative finance, exchange, and economics, and collaborate with like minded peers to create a new economy that works for everyone, while enjoying a delightful summer holiday on the magical Pelion peninsula.
This course is designed especially for social entrepreneurs, enthusiastic agents of change, local government officials, and serious students who are eager to co-create a new sustainable and convivial economy from the bottom up. In this highly participatory workshop, we will use a combination of presentations, discussion groups (some on the beach), videos, and simulation games, to dive deeply into the process of exploring and developing innovative methods of finance and exchange, like community currencies and credit clearing exchanges.
Our venue is the beautiful, modern and comfortable Hotel Alexandros, a calm and serene retreat center perched on the hillside overlooking the Aegean Sea within walking distance to the pristine Plaka beach and the clear waters of the Mediterranean.
Course fees are extremely affordable but a few fee concessions may be a available for qualified low income participants.
The course runs from June 24 thru July 1. Course description and registration form can be found at http://www.kalikalos.org/exchange-finance. Space is limited so register early.
The Big Short and other revealing sources
If you have not seen the movie The Big Short, I encourage you to do so. It is based on the book by Michael Lewis, a former Wall Street insider with an unusual talent for telling a good story and making complicated things understandable. In this book and others of his that I’ve read (Boomerang and Flash Boys), Lewis does a superb job of describing Wall Street corruption and providing important insights about our dysfunctional systems of money, banking and finance.
I also recommend the new book, Healing Capitalism, by my friend Prof. Jem Bendell. The printed book is priced for the academic market (pricey) but the digital format is much more reasonable. In the introduction, which you can read for free, Bendell quotes E. C. Riegel: “we need not petition Congress and we need not waste time to denounce bankers, for they can neither help nor hinder our natural right to extend credit to each other, and this is the perfect basis for a money system.” You can download the Introduction here, and links to free downloads of Riegel’s works can be found at http://reinventingmoney.com/library/.
On a personal note, it is in sadness that I report the passing of my dear sister, my only sibling, Mary Lillian (we always called her Marylil) on the second day of the new year. Marylil was a genuinely nice person who was loved by everyone who knew her. Her absence is deeply felt.# # #