Newsletter No. 26 - September 2009
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1. WEBSITE HOME PAGE UPDATED
The revised Home Page reflects the subject matter I am mainly dealing with currently, nearly six years after the website started up.
My current emphasis on the need to reform the worldwide money system does not mean that I think the need to shift other aspects of human life in society from dependency to self-direction and self-control is less important than I previously thought. Quite the reverse.
Enabling more people all over the world, for example, to decide and control their own work instead of depending on employers to provide and control it, will be one of many such interacting shifts in the overall pattern of systems renewal on which the future of humanity will depend. Connected shifts in spheres like education and health will be just as necessary. But virtually none will be possible if the worldwide money system goes on compelling or encouraging people to reject them.
2. "BEYOND ECONOMICS"
This is the theme of Development, Vol. 52, Issue 3, September 2009 (www.palgrave-journals.com/development/journal/v52/n3/index.html) for the Society for International Development (www.sidint.org).
My paper in it is on "The Twenty-first Century Crisis of World Development – The Central Role of Money Values: a metaproblem".
It recognises that humans are now an endangered species and that:
"The way the money system now works is a metaproblem affecting almost everything. It imposes a perverse calculus of values, compelling or encouraging almost everyone in the world to compete to turn planetary resources into waste. We badly need to bring money values into harmony with ethical values, to motivate us to help each other to regenerate and conserve the planet’s resources.
History shows why the money system has evolved perversely as it has; and philosophy confirms that the assumption on which conventional economics is based - that values generated by a human calculus of value can be treated as objective facts - is an elementary conceptual error. But, even if we are committed to remedying its social, environmental and economic outcomes, we shy away from trying to reform it."
The paper proposes a practical programme for money system reform as an urgent challenge for world development today.
In accordance with Palgrave's copyright requirements, I will be glad to e-mail a .pdf Author's Copy of the text of the paper to colleagues who email me and ask for a copy of "SID, Beyond Economics, Robertson".
3. WEANING WALL STREET AND THE CITY OFF STATE SUPPORT
"Wall Street and the City of London survived thanks to state support. Now they need to be weaned off it." The Economist, 10.9.2009.
It was good to see The Economist publishing that message in its leader of 10th September on "Unnatural Evolution", about the aftermath of the collapse of Lehman Brothers a year ago that precipitated the global financial breakdown. http://www.economist.com/printedition/displayStory.cfm? Story_ID=14416804&mode=comment&intent=readBottom
Particularly welcome was the Economist's publication of two comments - one from me on 11th and the other from Ben Dyson (www.BenDyson.com) on 14th September - pointing out that the right way to wean them off state support is to relieve the commercial banks of the function of providing almost all the public money supply as profit-making debt created as loans to their customers.
NB: Ben Dyson will be one of the speakers at the conference of the American Monetary Institute this week in Chicago, 24-27 September (www.monetary.org/2009conference.html).
4. "THE SECRET OF OZ" - Updating "The Moneymasters"
This 109-minute film is Bill Still's successor to his 1996 "The Moneymasters". It makes a very powerful case for monetary reform in the USA. I recommend it warmly to non-Americans as well as Americans, and I am glad to have had a part in it as the UK "expert interviewee" in the film.
Two connected points from it about the history of monetary reform in the USA particularly impress me. First: how many US Presidents have said that governments should take the power to create the public money supply away from the banks and use it in the public interest; and, second, how many of those Presidents subsequently met with assassination or attempted assassination.
You will find a lot of interesting background and current information about the film on "The Secret of Oz" website - www.secretofoz.com - including how to get a copy at the special introductory price until 30th September.
5. G20 SUMMIT MEETING IN PITTSBURGH, 24-25 September
Before the G20 meeting in London on 2nd April the need for a genuine international currency to replace the US dollar was publicly canvassed by Russia and China. For a reminder, click here and scroll to Item 3.
It has now been raised again in advance of the follow-up G20 Summit this week - www.pittsburghsummit.gov. But now it is being raised - and rather favourably and interestingly too - by the director of economic policy studies at the influential, pro-business conservative think-tank, the American Enterprise Institute. See www.bloomberg.com/apps/news?pid=
Will President Obama, as Chairman of this G20 Summit, be prepared to accept international monetary reform as an agenda item? He is currently beset by serious difficulties on other policies - on health and anti-missile defence, for example, as well as Afghanistan and the Middle East. He may well feel that, at this time, it would be unnecessarily risky for him to agree to formal international discussion of the prospect of giving up America's privileged financial position in the world economy.
That will not, of course, prevent representatives of other countries like China and Russia discussing international monetary reform informally. As interest in it spreads, awareness may spread that the principles underlying it are valid for individual countries too.
Among other issues arising at the Pittsburgh Summit will almost certainly be the proposal to control banker' bonuses, which Lord Turner - see Item 6 below - recently described as a "populist diversion". Another could be the proposal to split "retail banks" (high street banks) and "investment banks" into completely separate businesses, on the general lines of the American Glass-Steagall Act repealed under President Clinton in 1999. The aims of both those proposals would, in fact, be successfully and more simply dealt with by removing the power to create the public money supply from all profit-making banks.
Preceding the G20 Summit, a major Faith Summit of more than 25 national religious leaders representing the Christian, Muslim and Jewish faiths will be held on 22-23 September in Pittsburg to discuss a priority agenda for tackling poverty and environmental damage. It will press for actions — not just words — that will help hungry and poor people to lift themselves out of poverty.
6. BLOATED SUPERSTRUCTURES - The Real UK Election Issue
Ahead of next year's general election, as the UK political parties struggle with how to deal with the damage to the public finances caused by the recent banking boom and bust, Conservatives are calling for severe cuts in wasteful public spending by a "bloated" government sector.
At the same time, Lord (Adair) Turner, head of the FSA (Financial Services Authority) has suggested that the private financial sector has become too "swollen" for the good of the economy, and that some parts of it make no useful economic or social contribution. Meanwhile, Prime Minister Gordon Brown has at last admitted that serious cuts in public spending will be needed.
The fact is that both big government and big business (including big finance) are now much too large, too dominant, too wasteful and too damaging to citizens' interests.
No established political party has yet understood that citizens should be enabled to take more power to control their own lives; and that that cannot happen without a comprehensive reform of the money system, because only that will reduce our society's overdeveloped dependence on the whole swollen superstructure of financial, bureaucratic and connected professional establishments.
In summary, comprehensive reform of the money system must
- change how the public money supply is created,
- shift taxes off the incomes and profits people earn by making useful contributions to society and instead tax the value they take from common resources like the value of land and other environmental resources, and
- shift public spending away from big public and private sector organisations providing top-down public services, and on to providing an unconditional citizen's income to all citizens - to reflect our rightful share in the value of common resources, and to enable us to look after ourselves and one another better than so many of us can today.
This transfer of power to people to control our own lives co-operatively may be necessary for our species survival. Scholars like Joseph Tainter believe that causes of the collapse of previous civilisations, like the Roman Empire, included the top heavy growth of organisational superstructures comparable to those in our global civilisation today.
7. TWO UK OCTOBER EVENTS RELEVANT TO ITEM 6
(1) Bromsgrove Conference, 2009. Late afternoon Friday 2nd to lunchtime Sunday 4th October. For a report on last year's meeting and information on this year's - click here and then on the "PROSPERITY UK" button at the foot of the page for the email address for this year's details.
(2) Schumacher Lectures, Bristol, 2009, in co-operation with the New Economics Foundation. Saturday 17 October, 09:45 - 17:30. FROM THE ASHES OF THE CRASH: Rebuilding the new economics". Click here for event details and ticket ordering.
8. OTHER IMPORTANT REFERENCES
(1) Corporate and Government Corruption is a feature of the whole worldwide money system. Thank you to Barbara Panvel for this reference to it in India - www.tni.org/detail_page.phtml?act_id=19770.
(2) Human survival and population reduction: how to achieve them. Thanks to Jack Alpert for this - www.skil.org/position_papers_folder/eagleshumanssurvival.html.
(3) "Action is the life of all, and if thou dost not act, thou dost nothing" - Gerrard Winstanley (1609 - 1676) - www.guardian.co.uk/commentisfree/belief/2009/sep/05/gerrard-winstanley-plaque-cobham.
This surely presents a truth that theologians, philosophers, scientists, economists, academics and everyone else should reflect on. Perhaps we should substitute "I decide how to act; therefore I am", in place of Descartes' cogito ergo sum ("I think; therefore I am").
21st September 2009