James Robertson Newsletter No. 33 - July 2011
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(1) Judi Marshall, Gill Coleman and Peter Reason (eds),LEADERSHIP FOR SUSTAINABILITY: An Action Research Approach
(2) Julian Pratt, STEWARDSHIP ECONOMY: Private property without private ownership
(3) Ad Broere, ENDING THE GLOBAL CASINO?
(4) Walter Rybeck, RE-SOLVING THE ECONOMIC PUZZLE
1. EDITORIAL: How The Mighty Are Falling
The current UK scandal over The News of the World may be turning into a full blown Anglo-American threat to reduce the power of the Murdoch empire over the policies of governments. It may extend also to a reappraisal of the ethics of the communications media as a whole.
Meanwhile, further development continues in the apparently unstoppable financial crisis in the US and Europe (Italy now), that was triggered in 2007-08 by the privileges and powers we give to the big banks to control our lives. How much longer will we let those last? See Item 2.
2. MANAGING THE NATIONAL MONEY SUPPLY: A Preview
As the present national and international financial crisis continues to develop,conventional thinking sees no clear solution to it.
Chapter 3 of the book I am writing on the future of the money system for Green Books, Future Money: Breakdown or Breakthrough? (click here and then scroll down) provides one. It spells out the increasingly obvious answer to how we should create and manage the national money supply in 21st-century societies. The proposed reform will both ease the social and economic consequences of the present crisis, and reduce the probability of similar crises in future.
More importantly in the longer term, this will be a central part of the wider reform of the way the money system works as a whole. We need that comprehensive reform urgently now, in order to motivate the world's people to save, and not as now to destroy, the ecological, social and economic resources of our planet on which our present civilisation depends.
With Green Books' agreement, I am making the current draft of Chapter 3 available now in advance of the expected publication in September of the final report of the UK Independent Commission on Banking -http://bankingcommission.independent.gov.uk.
Please feel free to forward the pdf on to anyone you think might be interested in it.
(I wlll be glad to have any comments you may like to send me. But please forgive me if I don't have time to reply to them in the next few months.)
3. BRIEF BOOK REVIEWS
(1) Judi Marshall, Gill Coleman and Peter Reason (eds), LEADERSHIP FOR SUSTAINABILITY: An Action Research Approach, Greenleaf Publishing, 2011, hardback, 260pp. Click on the link above for a description of the book, praise of it, its contents, and details about its editors.
It is based on the editors' experience of running the MSc in Responsibility and Business Practice at Bath University School of Management from 1997 to 2010. Having myself been involved in some of the early programmes of the course, I have found the book fascinating.
I strongly recommend it. Anyone concerned with adult education for the future that we now face worldwide should at least take a look at its details. The course is now being taken up more widely, for example at Ashridge Business School and Lancaster University School of Management.
The book is based (pp 3-4) on conviction that:
"the ecology of our planet is under extreme stress as a result of human activity. We believe that this is incontrovertible in broad terms, although we appreciate that many details are open to debate. The challenge of climate change often grabs the headlines, but is only part of the sustainability story. Other important issues include loss of biodiversity, mass extinction, pollution, depletion of carbon-based energy sources, pressure on water supplies and food insecurity. ... Our concerns are for the more-than-human world ... The challenge we face is that at individual, community, societal and global levels,humanity simply does not know how to respond to the enormous challenge of living sustainably on the Earth".
At the centre of the book are the stories of 29 graduates from the course, all interesting in their own different ways.
One of the final Reflections (p 235) is:
"For many of us (tutors as well as students) the MSc was an emotional (and spiritual) rollercoaster; we had moments of sublime recognition of the planet and its inhabitants as an interconnected whole: we had moments of despair at the degeneration of complex ecosystems and the foolishness and destructiveness of our species. And we struggled with how to cope with a 'normal' world that, for the most part, acts as if none of this is happening".
(2) Julian Pratt, STEWARDSHIP ECONOMY: Private property without private ownership, Lulu, 2011, paperback, 217 pp.
Julian Pratt describes the purpose of his book as "the limited one of pursuing the consequences of a single idea - what it could be like if everybody shared equally in the wealth of the natural world. It does not envisage the 'end of politics' or suggest that this single reform is a panacea for all social and economic ills. But it does provide a firm foundation on which to build a fair and sustainable economy."
In practice it is not a very limited purpose, of course. But his book brings together admirably the various necessary reforms to deal with property in land, managing the environment, raising revenue, and distributing social benefits. I recommend it very warmly.
Click here to browse the text or to buy a copy from Lulu - itself an interesting publisher.
(3) Ad Broere, ENDING THE GLOBAL CASINO?, Humane Economy Publishings, The Netherlands, 2010, paperback, 2005pp. (Click on the link above for book details and an interview with the author on why he believes the sustainability of the global financial system has expired.)
Clearly and simply written, this is another excellent book that I commend warmly. It clarifies in an accessible way how our economy and our monetary system work, and is "an imminent danger to us all".
It argues that " the extent and persistence of the financial and economic crisis to which the world is still exposed indicate that the sustainability of the global financial system has expired" ... and "it is necessary for us to act".
It explains why ending the global casino will make way for a truly better world, with money in a supporting instead of a leading role.
(4) Walter Rybeck, RE-SOLVING THE ECONOMIC PUZZLE, Shepheard-Walwyn, 2011, paperback, 238pp.
I welcome this latest book in Shepheard-Walwyn's series on Ethical Economics.
Re-solving the Economic Puzzle is primarily addressed to American readers. The message in the final Part of the book on "Reclaiming America" is that:
"Public collection of land values to replace taxes that suppress the economy is a strategy that for too long has been missing in action from the American policy agenda. Without substantial taxation of socially created land values, many public and private remedies for treating social ills are rendered impotent".
That message underlies the "Ten Vital Paths" that Walter Rybeck proposes for the "major policy directions that can bolster America's economy".
But it is, of course, a strategy that applies to every part of the world as one element in the comprehensive reform of the money system that we now urgently need. And the detailed background to it in the book, for example on "Forgotten Chapters in US History", will be of interest to a wider readership.
PS. Brian Hodgkinson's A New Model of the Economy from Shepheard-Walwyn is now available in paperback. For my 2008 review of the hardback,click here.
4. THE UK CO-OPERATIVE ECONOMY: Britain's return to co-operation, 2011. Click on the link above and then download this 23-page report.
"It has been a year of resilience and growth for the co-operative sector in 2011. ... From those responsible for establishing national policy, to villagers wishing to take control of their own shops and services, the co-operative sector is being turned to."
There is much good news in this report. And I believe that many more people will join the co-operative movement and set up co-operative enterprises, when we become free not to have to use money which has been created as debt, on which interest has to be paid and which eventually has to be repaid itself.
Ed Mayo is Secretary General of Co-operatives UK. Click here to read his 12 July comments on the opportunity the UK government is giving to co-operatives and mutuals to bid for and deliver public services. His blog can be read here - http://edmayo.wordpress.com.
18th July 2011