How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could do? I’ll start with just 2

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  • Thu, Jan 29, 2009 - 02:36pm

    #61

    Vanityfox451

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

Hi Joe,

who is the author of the book ‘Web Of Debt’, I would be very interested? I’ve put together a kind of meme and built a thread I’ll link to you here. Built around film and population, its central thread is about the author John Perkins who’s written two books ‘Confessions Of An economic Hitman’ and ‘The Secret History Of The American Empire’, both of them built on driving and creating debt in third world countries for the benefit of the west and corporation. I’d appreciate your comments, no matter how subjective or critical ;-

https://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/logans-run/12335

 My Best,

Paul

  • Thu, Jan 29, 2009 - 03:13pm

    #62
    slider77

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

this is a pipes dream but

if for one year, the fed gov, would stop spending money in other countries, and instead bring the money home, and apply it to this country…fixing schools, highways, bridges, rail lines, vet hospitals, all the things that need fixing in this country instead…no, everything won;t be fixed in a year, but that money  would stay here, to be kept using for "our" projects…

you know "take care of us" first, instead of sticking our nose in everybody else’s busines

 any country that we did help after that, if there was any corruption, pull all aid/money, etc back from that country and bring it back home

 as one poster mentioned…recyle everything,  I am all in favor of that

but so much of what we recyle, goes to another country for use…Why do we send shiploads of cardboard to China, and they use it there…Why can’t we use it here?  are we do dumb we can’t figure out a way to use it here???

I am all in favor of solar panels for houses, but unless your very rich, you can forget it….this "expensive to install  but will pay for itself in 5-10 years"  just doesn’t cut it for me…

make it cheap to install solar panels…even if it has to be subsidized…makes more sense then subsidizing the oil cartels

every new house bilt should have  solar panels…every older home, should be able to install solar panels if they wish, without going into bankruptcy to afford it…if they need maintanence, repairs etc..have a company just for that…you know like you replace any appliance in your home…and the solar panels should be bilt in the US, NOT in China

its things like this that the money we stop giving to countries could be used for….

whenever they talk of pollution, its always the "cars", its "us" the little people causing it…why do they never mention all the flights that Air Force One takes to distant countries, to have a chit chat and photo ops with this country’s top dog and that country’s top dog????   How much pollution does that cause????

 we have the technology these days, to cut those trips in half at least…with telaconferencing…(sp) etc etc…what about when a house burns???  all those appliances that burn along with it…what about all those oil fires in Iraq? some years back???

 I was under the impression that AT&T was a monopoly, so the gov broke them up…well, what about Walmart?  isn’t that a monopoly???   every town they come to, they put the lil mom and pop business out of business..once they accomplish that they raise their prices, higher then mom and pops originally were….any store or company that locks employees in for the night, should be closed down right now…….

 When a company is failing instead of the gov bailing them out…all CEO’s and anybody who makes X# of dollars are out the door, no bonuses, severance pay or anything like that…let the employees have it and run it…Everyplace I have ever worked at, we would say"why are we doing this? this is stupid, this is a waste of time"  all because some big shot had nothing else to do, and made some new rule about something….that made no sense at all….

If CEO’s knew the lil peon just might get their job, they would be alot  more careful….wouldn’t matter how much money they had made, their ego’s would be crushed….

 

 

 

  • Thu, Jan 29, 2009 - 03:56pm

    #63

    caroline_culbert

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

—ban all commercials during children’s tv programs

—eliminate all vending machines in schools (use the part of the bailout $$ they are giving to schools to set up fresh/organic fruits, veg., and nuts "carts")

—ban all auto "performance" shops (which  enables heavily pollution and negates/takes out the very measures put into cars to lower CO2 emissions)

—require all products to print the cost of the item on price tags (along with the price they’re selling it for)… most consumers have no idea what items (like Nike and diamonds) actually cost the manufacturers/dealers and they get ripped off because consumers pay for something without knowing the markups on items.  If consumers actually knew what a latte costs (out the door) are to the company they would be shocked at the price they actually paid for the item.

For example:

A diamond ring goes through the channels and finally ends up at the retailer inside the showcase.  The ring was purchased, along the channel, at the markup price of 300% of the cost of the initial manufacturer/laborer.  The retailer now has to sell this ring, to the customer, at the markup of 300%.  The retailer "has a great big 50% off sale" but the customer has no idea that they are still paying 250% more of the initial cost of the diamond ring.

You could find the same situation for Nike, Old Navy, Walmart, and etc.  The bigger the profit margin for any particular item is the rip-off percentage the customer paid for the item.  I think the customers should demand to see, on EVERY tag, the cost of the item and what the merchant wants for the item.

  • Thu, Jan 29, 2009 - 04:17pm

    #64
    J Kovacs

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

Ellen Hodgson Brown.  I think she is a Lawyer.  The book so far is amazing.  This book should be in high school and colleges.  I plan on reading "The creature from Jekyll Island"  I am aware of John Perkins.  I’m gonna read his book too but I have a list of like 5 books I want to read first.  

 

I’ll check out the link. thanks. 

  • Thu, Jan 29, 2009 - 04:57pm

    #65

    Vanityfox451

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

Hi Joe,

I’ve just ordered her book online because this looks like a ‘Must Read’. For anyone else that wants to read the review I’ve found, open the link here :-

Ellen Hodgson Brown – ‘The Web Of Debt’

http://www.webofdebt.com/

Thanks for the ‘Headsup’ Joe,

Take Care,

Paul

 

  • Thu, Jan 29, 2009 - 05:42pm

    #66
    J Kovacs

    J Kovacs

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

Another book I plan on reading which is the most interesting of Topics is a RESOURCES BASED ECONOMY ("the best that money can’t buy" by Jacque Fresco.  Yes some argue all system are resource based, but actually they are money based to use the resources which causes the misallocation of resources which causes the aberrant behavior, which creates the wars, poverty, corruption, greed, crime, health problems and so on.  A new level of thinking will emerge which will give us real FREEDOM.  The freedom we have now is really only associated to how much money you can obtain.  
 
You can also get a free PDF readings by Fresco called "Designing the Future"   
 
 
 
Just cut and paste.   
 
http://www.thezeitgeistmovement.com/DesigningtheFuture.pdf   (this is a great read too, takes about a little over an hour, you will be amazed) 

  • Thu, Jan 29, 2009 - 06:22pm

    #67

    Vanityfox451

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

Hi Joe,

If this is of interest to you, I write a great deal to people every day and direct them to the Crash Course. With this in mind I find a lot of inter-related subjects along the way. One of those is a re-print of a conversation I had with someone on Jack Fresco and where he felt Zeitgeist Addendum went wrong. It seems I changed his mind with his second reply. I like Jacks youthful enthusiasm, which is quite something for a man of his age. I’ve been meaning to get a copy of his book and now you’ve reminded me

Take Care,

Paul

 

I’m connecting MGhandi’s excellent reprint article that was made into a thread on the 14th of January here :-

https://www.peakprosperity.com/forum/teh-zeitgeist-movement/11668

…which I believe relevant and connected to this thread…

:-

 

Hi Rob,

I’m still with you and get where you are where you say :-

"In my case, I was with them up until about midway in "Zeitgeist: Addendum". I began to disagree with the second half of "Zeitgeist: Addendum" where the eggheads of The Venus Project called for a total elimination of money and work. Why? Because that will be impossible to achieve in the real world. Sure, it would be nice if robots could do all the work in society and we all could just lay back on some beach somewhere, drinking Pina Coladas all day, but who is going to make you that Pina Colada and who will serve it to you on the beach? Is it a resort? Who owns it? Who runs it? Who maintains it? Who will serve you at a restaurant and cook the food the waiter brings to your table? Will the waiter and the chef simply work for nothing, for free, without any pay or compensation? Of course not.They too want to kick back and not work if no one else is going to work. Why should they? They’re not suckers and work while everybody else sits on their fat lazy asses and does nothing. See my point? These examples point out how ludicrous and ridiculous The Venus Project’s lofty pie-in-the-sky goals (i.e. no more work or money) are nothing but fanciful pipe dreams that can never be achieved in reality. " 

……….

I think there was the idea where money no longer was a need because money as a measure of energy is proven in this system to be nothing more than the beginings of a systemic collapse to that system when you try to make it run in link-step with energy.

I’ll try and explain myself. If you build debt into something that is purchased in the way that America sells a power station to a south American country, complete with its grid and all fixtures and fittings with a loan over 25 years, with a built in disguise of wealth from these developments, when in reality 90% of the people do not benefit and end up loosing 40% of all they earn and later loosing there resources because the debt goes into deficit, you end with a country that has no control and a larger country raping it for all it is worth. Suppose instead you used your own resources and the population worked together for the benefit of everyone rather than the normal 10% profiting on projects other than a belching coal-fired power station and, all you used were the resources and accumalated no debt and didn’t pay the builders anything but the betterment of that society; that society would grow to be an amazing place.

Look at the education system that has been created over the last 90 years in America. The whole system is wracked with expenses that far outway the education standard at its finished result. It is completed with a system where the educated begin the job they were trained to do already in a massive amount of debt. Imagine a world where education was something that was designed without money and based on creating for others what ‘You’ were blessed with.

Lets build the picture. Suddenly your community is 40% better off already where resources are no longer being burnt up to pay for interest. You would gain an amazing level of structure on this system very quickly. A structure that was based on only using the sustainable resources at your fingertips. Creating a learning base out of honest humility wouldn’t be created on the basis of getting one over on your neighbor, because he would be equal.

If you remember, ‘Fresco’ said that any system isn’t perfect and does have flaws but, you’d have to say that it appears to be better than the one we’re living through right now.

Its difficult to adopt any new ideal to the mix when the public are so busy creating ‘Isms’ to everything about this form of utopia. Many would state it worked in a great many parts of the structures to socialism. Others enthuse it to be a kind of communism. Its a point of view built on parodimes that are black and white, when the realties are very much shades of grey.

This link below, I feel, will blow your mind when you get to the bottom of it and will clarify the thoughts I’m trying to describe to you. I must insist that I don’t feel that this will come about in either of our lifetimes because, the world needs to evolve. It will take many many generations. The truth is, if you really think about it, we’ve been brought up on films that make space travel seem easy. We use computers that run at incredible high speeds through advancement from where they were in development within our lifetimes; maybe only a decade or two. Yet, the industrial revolution was only 180 years ago, when steam trains began being fed coal to create motion and, the rest as they say is history. Look at it this way, if you take away natural gas and nuclear as creators of electricity, we still use coal for about 75% of all our electricity needs worldwide and, thats just an over-sized steam engine!!

Are we really so advanced, or do we just think we are, with nothing brighter or more inteligent than this ‘Winning’ species to tell us otherwise?

On the evolutionary front, when you look at our ability to live and work in vast cities with a million people in them, we’re creating a giant science project because, every day we’re winging it, because every day is another day where we survived to tell the tale.

Lets visit Bali and find out about ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’ :-

http://uazu.net/money/lietaer.html

Take Care,
Paul
……………………..

Hi Paul,

I don’t disagree with any of your points and I too would love it if The Venus Project’s aims were achieved. It irks me to no end when I think how much more advanced a society we would be having right now — and enjoying, if Man had done it the right and correct way from the get go.

I think had Man not wasted his time, his talents and his resources on devising better ways to destroy other men and the environment, but rather had decided to build a better world for all fellow men (and not just for the wealthy), I think we may have been living in a man-made paradise…

 

  • Thu, Jan 29, 2009 - 08:41pm

    #68
    J Kovacs

    J Kovacs

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

 
 
  Fresco’s idea about a resource based economy would work overtime.  People 100 years ago would say that American Capitalism would not work either but that was proved wrong.  But we are going down the wrong path.  As stated in his readings, over time most jobs will be automated so people’s purchasing power will be gone.  It’s just inevitable.  We cannot continue to give people meaningless jobs to occupy them, to obtain lower wages, benefits, and so on, just to realize they cannot make their house payments. 
 
That entire Idea that people will just drink and lay on the beach is far from the truth, that is something called known as LEISURE TIME, which is something that we get from work.  When you come home and you see that your land and house needs up keep, you do it, not because you get paid for it, but because you know that if I do something or get the technology to help, then my life will be richer and easier.  Some may argue "but can pay someone to do that for you", that’s not the point.  The point is that we naturally have that drive, incentive, motive, to make things better.  Any notion of being  "lazy" will not hold up due to the fact that no person will just sit down in the sun 365, 24/7.  We all want to do things, and know things.  The problem is that people have been conditioned to think that a money system produces incentive.  true it does, but it produces the wars, crime, poverty, greed, corruption, and so on.  So continuing more of the same and hoping to get different results is just INSANE.  And more of the same is this Voting, Laws, Money system, Politicians.  These are nothing more than just established institutions (as Jacque says), that keep things they way they are.  Using the money system as a control device to control us.  It’s counterproductive in the big picture and primitive.  
 
Over 130,000 scientists were used to make the first Nuclear Weapon.  And that was just in this country.  Just think about how far and advanced we would be and better of if those same men were used to make the technology to make all of our lives better.  
 
And I hate that idea that "well then everyone would be the same under that system"  Not true either.  We would be the same as for the understanding on what needs to be done to maintain our way of life and prevent scarcity.  But we would still be individuals, individuals with real freedom not some kind of manufactured freedom which is only judged by the dollar.  
 
It would take time.  People need to realize their true potential.  After reading his books and other material everything come more clear.  
 
One more thing, Utopia is another fallacy.  Utopia is associated with the word Perfection.  Remember we can never achieve Perfection.  It is not possible.  It just like getting a new computer, you think it’s perfect only to find out it’s outdated a month after.  That’s all what Fresco is trying to get across is we need to upgrade or we will destroy ourselves.  
 
 
WEB OF DEBT QUOTE:  ( I like this and it is true)…."Voting is like picking out detergent, you can go with either Ivory Soap ( McCain) or you can go with Tide ( Obama), only to realize they are both owned by Procter&Gamble (bankers/corporations)."  
 
I will click on the sites later, I got some papers to write.  Have a good day.
 
~Joe 
  • Thu, Jan 29, 2009 - 09:22pm

    #69

    Vanityfox451

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    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

Hi Joe,

I think you’ve read me wrongly – I’m in total agreement with Fresco’s ideals, and yours. I used the words ‘I’m still with you and get where you are where you say’, to draw ‘Rob’ into a different point of view, for which he agreed with.

I put a link at the bottom of the letter to ‘Rob’ where I wrote :-

 ‘Lets visit Bali and find out about ‘Yin’ and ‘Yang’ ‘

I’ll open that and paste it below. I believe the two go together really well and, more so where you wrote above :-

" As stated in his readings, over time most jobs will be automated so people’s purchasing power will be gone.  It’s just inevitable.  We cannot continue to give people meaningless jobs to occupy them, to obtain lower wages, benefits, and so on, just to realize they cannot make their house payments "

…I think looking back a the way I’ve cut and pasted the articles I could have been taken in both contexts? My apologies…

Take Care,

Paul

………………

Money, Community & Social Change
——————————–

An Interview with Bernard Lietaer
By Ravi Dykema

What is money? And how well does it work to solve society’s ills?
Bernard Lietaer, author of the upcoming book "Access to Human Wealth:
Money beyond Greed and Scarcity" (Access Books, 2003), has made a
life’s work of exploring these questions. Lietaer has been involved
in the world of money systems for more than 25 years, and his
experience in monetary matters ranges from multinational corporations
to developing countries. He co-designed and implemented the
convergence mechanism to the single European currency system (the
Euro), and served as president of the Electronic Payment System in
his native Belgium. He also co-founded one of the largest and most
successful currency funds.

Lietaer is the author of nine books on money and finances, including
"The Future of Money" (Random House, 2001), The Mystery of Money
(Riemann Verlag, 2000) and a book for kids, called ‘The World of
Money’ (Arena Verlag, 2001). Formerly professor of international
finance at the University of Louvain, Lietaer is currently a fellow
at the Center for Sustainable Resources at the University of
California, Berkeley. Beginning this fall, he will be a professor at
Naropa University. Here, Lietaer shares his views on the shortcomings
of our conventional currency system, the benefits of creating a
complementary currency, and ways to effect lasting social change.

RD: You’re very experienced on the world stage with currencies and
money. It’s the world you’ve moved in much of your life, right?

BL: Yes, both in the area of conventional money such as the Euro and
more recently with less conventional money systems. Below the radar
beams of official thought, there has been a resurgence all over the
world for the last 15 to 20 years of what I call complementary
currencies, currencies that are operating on a smaller scale than the
national level, and that can solve social, environmental and
education problems.

RD: People think of someone who works with currencies as being a
materialist. Yet it sounds as if your interests are towards social
change through complementary currencies. How did you come to be
interested in this other dimension?

BL: The reason I went to the Central Bank in the first place was to
check whether it was possible to improve the conventional money
system from within. I had been working for a number of years in South
America, and I had seen the damage that the existing money system has
created on a huge scale in Latin America.

RD: You thought it was the money system and not just the governments?

BL: It’s a chicken and egg story: unstable currency equals unstable
government. There is practically no way today for a developing
country to have a reasonable monetary policy within the current rules
of the game. Joseph Stiglitz, Nobel laureate in economics and
formerly head economist at the World Bank, makes the same claims in
his book Globalization and Its Discontents (Penguin, 2002). Whether
you fix your currency to the dollar or let it float, you end up with
an unmanageable monetary problem, like Brazil, Russia or Argentina
have experienced. Eighty-seven countries have gone through a major
currency crisis in the last 25 years. Their fiscal policies are
imposed by an International Monetary Fund (IMF). I am afraid that if
the United States had to live by the rules that are imposed on, say,
Brazil, the United States of America would become a developing
country in one generation. It’s the system that is currently
unstable, unfair and not working.

The majority of humanity has gone through a recent monetary crisis at
least once already. We’re living here, in America, in an island of
perceived stability. And even that is an illusion. We could have a
run on the dollar under the current rules.

We are dealing with an unstable system, an ailing system. Back in
1975, I had come to the conclusion that there would be a systemic
series of monetary crashes, starting with Latin America. And that’s
why I wrote my book on how the money system was not working and its
impact on Latin American development, Europe, Latin America and the
Multinationals (Praeger, 1979). I predicted that the first crash in
Latin America would be in the early 1980s. It actually happened in
1981 in Mexico. Since then we have had more than 80 other countries
undergoing similar monetary crises.

RD: So someone’s not connecting the dots — or are they?

BL: Let me put it this way. The powers that be have no interest in
connecting the dots. If a new international monetary meeting like
Breton Woods were held, the first point on the agenda would be the
role of the dollar. So the United States has no interest in such a
meeting. The dollar is in a very privileged position.

RD: But it would be anyway, wouldn’t it, because we’re a dominant
economic player?

BL: I don’t want to spend a lot of time and energy attacking the
existing system. It is an obvious fact that America is the sole super
power. But when people say, "Well, there are fiscal crises in other
countries because the governments are less stable," my question is,
"How long would any government last in a country if you had to
repeatedly cut back on education programs, social programs, building
roads and all other programs?" How could that make a stable
democratic government possible? Like I said, it’s a chicken and an
egg sequence.

There is no way of winning in the current monetary game, particularly
for the less developed countries. It’s not accidental that
investments in the Third World have dropped proportionally by a third
since 1975. Currently, investments happen mainly between developed
countries, and that trend isn’t going to create a sustainable world
anytime soon.

RD: So the Third World is just being abandoned?

BL: Yes. Entire continents. Africa for instance has been dropped off
the world economic map for most practical purposes.

RD: And re-envisioning and re-engineering money itself could change this?

BL: Correct. And the good news is that such re-engineering of money
has started to happen if one knows where to look.

RD: Do a lot of other people share your views?

BL: Most people haven’t looked at what’s happening in monetary
innovations today. What do you think a frequent flyer mile is, but a
currency issued by an airline? In Britain, you can go to J.
Sainsbury, the largest supermarket chain, and use British Airway
miles to buy your goods. Initially, it was only designed as a loyalty
scheme for people taking planes. Today, you can earn this currency
without ever taking a plane. On Visa cards you get miles. And you can
use them to pay long-distance telephone calls, taxis, restaurants,
hotels.

First, let’s define what a currency is, because most textbooks don’t
teach what money is. They only explain its functions, that is, what
money does. I define money, or currency, as an agreement within a
community to use something as a medium of exchange. It’s therefore
not a thing, it’s only an agreement — like a marriage, like a political
party, like a business deal. And most of the time, it’s done
unconsciously. Nobody’s polled about whether you want to use dollars.
We’re living in this money world like fish in water, taking it
completely for granted.

Now the point is: there are many new agreements being made within
communities as to the kind of medium of exchange they are willing to
accept. As I said, in Britain, you can use frequent flier miles as
currency. It’s not a universal currency, it’s not legal tender, but
you can go to the supermarket and buy stuff. And in the United
States, it’s just a question of time before privately issued
currencies will be used to make purchases. Even Alan Greenspan, the
governor of the Federal Reserve and the official guardian of the
conventional money system, says, "We will see a return of private
currencies in the 21st century."

RD: In other words, private currencies are coming back. How would
that change the circumstances for poor people, for the Third World?

BL: I gave you that first example-a commercial loyalty currency-only
because it would be familiar to most of your readers. But in addition
to those commercial private currencies, there are now more than 4,000
communities around the world that have started their own currency for
social purposes as well.

For example, there are about 300 or 400 private currency systems in
Japan to pay for any care for the elderly that isn’t covered by the
national health insurance. They are called "fureai kippu" (caring
relationship tickets). Here’s how they work: let’s say that on my
street lives an elderly gentleman who is handicapped and cannot go
shopping for himself. I do the shopping for him. I help him with food
preparation. I help him with the ritual bath, which is very important
in Japan. For this help, I get credits. I put those credits in a
savings account, and when I’m sick, I can have other people provide
such services for me. Or I can electronically send my credits to my
mother, who lives on the other side of the country, and somebody
takes care of her.

Here is an agreement within a community to use as medium of payment
something other than national currencies, to solve a social problem.
And it makes it possible for hundreds of thousands of people to stay
in their homes much longer than they otherwise could. Otherwise,
you’d have to put most of these people into a home for seniors, which
costs an arm and a leg to society, and they’re unhappy there. So
nobody’s winning. In contrast, Japan has created a currency for
elderly care.

In the United States, Florida is the only state that has the same
density of elderly people as Japan does — 18 percent of the population
is more than 65 years old. But Florida is a model for our collective
future. Colorado will be there in 2020. Germany will be there in
2006, France in 2008, Britain in 2012. Partly because of the baby
boom generation, and partly because of the fact that health care has
improved and people live longer. If you put all of these elderly in
homes for seniors, you’d go bankrupt. Japan has been looking for
another way, and has found it by introducing a monetary innovation.

Let me give you other examples, already operational here in America
today. There are now several hundred "time dollar" operational
systems in the United States. The unit of account is the hour. I do
something for you. I have a credit for an hour, while you have a
debit for an hour. If I can use my credit with someone else, this
creates a currency between us. For those people who are willing to
give some of their time, the money manifests automatically. It
doesn’t quite work that way with dollars, does it? One of the two of
us has to get dollars by competing for them somewhere outside of our
community.

Time dollars are helping in a lot of communities where conventional
money is scarce: in ghettos, retirement communities, high
unemployment zones, student communities. There are 31 states in
America that are paying employees to start such time dollar systems,
because it solves social problems. There are some operating in
Chicago, fairly big ones in Florida. For example, in Chicago, there
are entire neighborhoods that used time dollar systems to create a
neighborhood watch system that got rid of drugs and gangs. It’s
working, it doesn’t cost anything to the taxpayer, it doesn’t create
a huge bureaucracy, and it encourages the solution of the local
problems by and with the very people who know most about them.

RD: What do they use their time-dollar credits for?

BL: Well, it’s a closed circle. If I do something for you, I have a
credit, which I can use with any member of the community that is part
of the system. I can’t buy cars or pay my telephone bill with this
system because the suppliers of such items don’t participate now in
such systems; but I can obtain services,so I could have my car
repaired, my house painted, my kids mentored.

The inventor of the time dollar system is Edgar Cahn, who’s the
author of No More Throw-Away People" (Essential Works Ltd, 2000). He
claims that if you can’t compete in the dollar economy, you’re thrown
away. He shows how a time dollars system provides a solution to this
process, because it operates in parallel with the conventional
competitive economy, and it creates an environment where everybody
can contribute.

RD: So you envision a world where there are a lot of these
alternative currencies?

BL: I don’t call them alternative, because they aren’t intending to
abolish or replace the national currency. I’m not claiming that we
could or should abandon national currencies or the competitive
economy. This is a complementary currency system. It facilitates
exchanges additional to the normal system. It makes it possible to
match unmet needs with unused resources.

RD: I can’t see how you’d be able to pay your rent with that.

BL: Well, in Ithaca, New York, there is a currency called Ithaca
hours, and some people pay part of their rent with it. Not all of it:
for some it is 50/50, for others it is 80/20. And the landlord or
lady can go to the farmer’s market and buy his vegetables and his
eggs.

RD: So the big things-transportation, housing, food-are those covered
in the concept of complementary currency?

BL: It all depends on the agreement you’re making, and whom you are
succeeding in including in that agreement. Let me give you a
real-life example. In Curitiba, the capital city of the State of
Paran in Brazil, if you bring pre-sorted garbage, you are given bus
tokens. So in Curitiba, public transport is clearly part of their
complementary currency system.
It depends on the agreements you have with your landlord, with the
transportation company, with the university, with the business
community. It just depends on who wants or is willing to participate.
You can’t force anybody to accept this currency. They are not what is
technically called "legal tender." I call them "common tender":
commonly accepted as payment for debts without coercion of legal
means.

RD: I understand that the government wants to get its chunk out of
barter transactions, just as if they were a cash transaction.

BL: Yes, and those taxes will need to be paid in "legal tender," i.e.
dollars. The tax issue has nothing to do with the currency you use in
an exchange, but with the kind of transaction you’re performing.

Say I’m a plumber. I come to your house and fix the plumbing. And you
give me a nice cake in payment. I’m supposed to declare the value of
that cake and pay taxes on it, because I’m in the plumbing business.
Now say I am a professor at a university. I come to your house. I fix
your faucet. You give me a $100 bill. I’m not obliged to declare it
because I’m not in the plumbing business. As I said: it is not the
currency used that determines whether a transaction is taxable or
not, but the nature of that transaction.

Interestingly, there is one complementary currency, the time-dollar
system that we talked about earlier, that is officially tax-free in
the United States. It’s used only to resolve social problems, and the
IRS has ruled that time-dollar systems are tax-free.

RD: I think complementary currencies, barter included, should be
tax-free, because they offer solutions to a social problem.

BL: Then I suggest you go and lobby for passing such a law. Currently
that’s not what the law says in the United States.

The use of complementary currencies is fairly recent. It took off
only in the last 15 years. Even in 1990 there were less than one
hundred complementary currency systems worldwide. Today there are
over 4,000. It’s definitely catching on.

RD: And you would like to see it continue to expand?

BL: I think it is a useful tool to solve a number of our problems. It
makes it possible to truly create a more gentle society.

I spent last summer in Bali. People are remarkably artistic in that
island. Their communities are unusually strong. They have festivals
that are totally mind-blowing, and can last a month. They’re having a
good time. It’s a comparatively non-violent society. And what I found
is that it isn’t a simple coincidence that they have been using a
dual currency system for many centuries. All these unusual
characteristics of Bali turn out directly to be nurtured by their
dual money system. I am publishing a detailed paper on how this
mechanism works in the forthcoming issue of Reflections, the journal
of the Society of Organizational Learning at MIT.

RD: How does the money system lead to those outcomes?

BL: Practically all Balinese participate in a dual currency system.
The first is the conventional national currency (the Indonesian
Rupiah); the second is a time currency where the unit of account is a
block of time of approximately three hours. This second currency is
created and used within the "banjar." This is a community entity
consisting of between 50 and 500 families. It is in each banjar that
the decisions are made democratically to launch any big community
project. It could be to put on a festival or build a school. For each
project, they always make two complementary budgets: one in the
national currency, and one in time. That second currency-called
"narayan banjar" (meaning work for the common good of the
community)is created by the people themselves. They don’t have to
compete in the outside world to obtain that second currency, and it
fosters cooperation between the members of the community. I call it a
yin currency-it’s more feminine in nature. And it complements the
national currency, which is a competitive currency and therefore of a
yang, or masculine, nature.

Here’s why it works: poor communities don’t have a lot of national
currency, but they tend to have a lot of time. In rich communities,
the opposite tends to be the case-people have more national currency,
but less time. In either case, each banjar is capable of creating
extraordinary events just by budgeting and using more of the kind of
currency-national or time-in which they are rich. This balance is a
key contribution to the unusually strong community spirit that
prevails in Bali. And it’s not just because they’re Hindus. There are
almost a billion Hindus in India, and they don’t behave that way.
Here is an example of how a currency can make a difference.

RD: We have a strong emotional attachment to money, and we worry
about it. So how we relate to money influences who we are and how we
think of ourselves.

BL: Yes, you’re right. But it is interesting that societies that are
using different kinds of currency have also very different collective
emotions concerning money. The generally accepted theory-dating back
to Adam Smith-is that money is value neutral. Money is supposed to be
just a passive medium of exchange. It supposedly doesn’t affect the
kind of transactions we make, or the kind of relations we establish
while making those exchanges. But the evidence is now in: this
hypothesis turns out to be incorrect. Money is not value neutral.

Let’s return to the example of the fureai kippu that I was mentioning
earlier, the elderly care currency in Japan. A survey among the
elderly asked them what they prefer: the services provided by people
who are paid in yen, the national currency; or the services provided
by the people paid in fureai kippu. The universal answer: those paid
in fureai kippu, because the relationships are different. This is one
example of evidence that currency is not neutral.

Another example: there is typically a reluctance among friends to pay
for help provided by using national currency. If a friend is helping
you move or paint and you pay him with national currency, it just
doesn’t feel right. Interesting isn’t it?

RD: So people feel differently about complementary currencies than
national currencies?

BL: Yes, there have been surveys in several countries that prove this
to be the case. Conventional currencies are built to create
competition, and complementary currencies are built to create
cooperation and community, and it’s important to be aware that both
can be available to make our exchanges.

According to Paul Ray’s (author of The Cultural Creatives, Harmony
Books, 2000) study, 83 percent of Americans believe that the top
priority should be to re-build community, and yet the kind of
currency we use in our transactions is precisely one that eliminates
community. The word "community" comes from Latin, "cum munere."
"Munere" is "to give," and "cum" is "among each other," so, community
means "to give among each other." In short, it turns out that dollar
exchanges tend to be incompatible with a gift economy. Complementary
currencies are.

RD: Are you saying that you can’t have community if you’re using
dollar exchanges?

BL: I’m saying that exclusive use of a competitive programmed
currency in a community tends to be destructive for the community
fabric. This isn’t theory. We’ve seen this happen at the tribe level,
with the collapses of traditional societies. I’ve seen one happen
myself in Peru among the Chipibo in the Amazon. That tribe had been
in existence for thousands of years. When they started using the
national currency among themselves, the whole community fabric
collapsed in five years’ time.

The same thing happened here during the 19th century in the
Northwestern United States and Canada, in the traditional indigenous
societies. The moment they started using white man’s currency among
themselves, the community collapsed, the traditional fabric broke
down.

RD: Do you think complementary currencies really can transform our planet?

BL: Yes. Bali is a perfect example that long-term use of a dual
yin-yang currency system creates a different society. Thirty percent
of a Balinese adult’s life happens in the space of the yin, feminine
currency, which is the time currency. In contrast, we spend close to
100 percent of our time in the masculine, yang, competitive currency.
That 30 percent of time spent on community activities creates another
society, where everybody can become an artist, where the community
fabric is stronger, where the social safety net is reliable, where
abandonment is unknown. It nurtures an extraordinary feeling of trust
and a higher quality of life.

RD: And you think this kind of culture and community can exist in
other places, with completely different religions and cultures?

BL: The short answer is yes. We have evidence from Japan, Germany,
Mexico, Brazil and the United States to show that complementary
currencies make a difference in the way people relate to each other.

RD: In a really transformed world, would a community be using
multiple complementary currencies as well as the national currency?

BL: Not necessarily. What has started to happen recently is an
integration. Many of these services that were using highly
specialized complementary currencies are beginning to integrate into
a single, local social-purpose currency. For example, youngsters who
are taking care of the elderly in Japan using their credits in
partial payment for tuition at the university, so we’re solving two
problems at the same time. It provides an additional way of making
things happen that otherwise is not available when national currency
is scarce. Remember, complementary currencies simply enable
additional matches between unmet needs and unused resources.

RD: Does the internet and electronic transfer systems offer a means
for the creation of complementary currencies?

BL: I am convinced that the reason complementary currencies are
developing now is because of cheap computing. Do you really think
American Airlines would have frequent flyer miles if they needed an
army of clerks trying to keep track of your miles? I don’t think so.
But today anybody with access to a PC can start a currency system. It
isn’t a coincidence that about 95 percent of the social purpose
complementary currencies are electronic.

RD: So can we buy an off-the-shelf program for creating a currency?

BL: Sure. There are even different freewares already available. One
of them is for operating a LETS (Local Exchange Trading System).
Another one that is free of charge is to start a time dollar system.
We are in the process of incorporating a non-profit foundation in
Boulder, the Access Foundation, whose purpose is to provide
independent information on all the different complementary currency
systems that are available worldwide, and on its website one will be
able to download the corresponding softwares. This website
(www.accessfoundation.org) is planned to be operational early this
fall.

Currently, our biggest problem with money and currencies is
unconsciousness. We are not aware of what we are doing around money.
We haven’t really thought about what money does to us. We believe
it’s neutral, so it doesn’t matter. But it’s not neutral: it deeply
shapes us and our societies. The first thing that has to happen
before complementary currency systems can effect real change on a
larger scale is a shift in consciousness and awareness.

RD: You mean, we need to be aware of how money works?

BL: Let me ask you this. Have you taken an inventory of the number of
days you spend in life getting ready to make money? And when you have
money, to manage the money or spend it?  But then, think about how
many hours you’ve thought about what money is. I suspect not very
much. We are spending a huge amount of energy to get something about
which we have surprisingly little understanding.

RD: Well, it’s like the rain. It’s something you adapt to.

BL: Yes, except that rain is not man-made. That’s precisely the
difference. We’re treating money as if it is God-given, like rain or
the number of planets in the solar system. But it isn’t. If you don’t
like the quality of rain, there’s not much you can do about it. If
you don’t like your money system, maybe you can do something about it.

Assume that a Martian lands in Denver on the wrong side of the
tracks. He ends up in one of the ghettos and finds that the houses
are run down, the kids not taken care of, the elderly in trouble, and
the trees dying. He sees all these things, and discovers that there
are people and organizations absolutely equipped and ready to solve
every one of those problems. So this Martian asks, "What are you
waiting for?" The answer: "We’re waiting for money." "What is money?"
the Martian inquires. "It’s an agreement in a community to use
something as a medium of exchange." Don’t you think he may leave the
planet believing there is no intelligent life here?

The point is: if money is an agreement within the community to use
something as a medium of exchange, we can create new agreements,
can’t we? That is exactly what people are already doing all over the
world. So why don’t we do it here? If we’re waiting for conventional
currency to solve all our problems, aren’t we waiting for Godot?

RD: Is this your whole campaign now? Are you through with Belgian
Central Banks?

BL: I’m trying to contribute to a consciousness shift regarding
money. I believe that by a small change in the money system, we can
unleash huge improvements in our social system. It’s the highest
leverage point for change in our society, and surprisingly few people
are looking at it. If you start a new complementary currency system,
it can become self-perpetuating and facilitate additional
transactions forever.

You know the saying, if you want to feed someone, give him a fish. If
you want to really help him, teach him how to fish. This is just a
fishing lesson — what you do with it is up to you. You can take big
fish or small fish, or you can choose not to fish at all. You decide
what issues you want to deal with in your community, and there is a
currency system that can help you with it.

 

  • Thu, Jan 29, 2009 - 11:00pm

    #70

    Dogs_In_A_Pile

    Status Platinum Member (Offline)

    Joined: Jan 04 2009

    Posts: 811

    count placeholder

    Re: How about a list of constructive things the gov’t could …

Caroline – Where to start?

[quote]  —ban all commercials during children’s tv programs

[/quote]

Ahhh, the all sweeping decision in a vacuum approach.  What about the worker at the manufacturer that makes the product that is being sold?  Now they lose their job because the company isn’t selling their product because it’s "necessary" for the government to mandate what children see on TV.  Here’s a novel idea – Why not let their parent’s do their job and oversee what their children are exposed to?

[quote] —eliminate all vending machines in schools (use the part of the bailout $$ they are giving to schools to set up fresh/organic fruits, veg., and nuts "carts")

[/quote]

Not sure what part of the country you live in, but here in Virginia organic food runs about 30% more than "regular" food.  Who is going to make up the difference?  Taxpayers in the school zone?  Or do we enlarge government’s role even further and have them step in and come up with more legislation?  Or, once again, how about putting the burden of responsible decision making back on the parents and have them decide what their kid is going to eat? 

[quote] —ban all auto "performance" shops (which  enables heavily pollution and negates/takes out the very measures put into cars to lower CO2 emissions)

[/quote]

You really need to do your homework on this one.  Many after market car performance shops actually increase the efficiency of the engine.  Yes, let’s ban them.

[quote] —require all products to print the cost of the item on price tags (along with the price they’re selling it for)… most consumers have no idea what items (like Nike and diamonds) actually cost the manufacturers/dealers and they get ripped off because consumers pay for something without knowing the markups on items.  If consumers actually knew what a latte costs (out the door) are to the company they would be shocked at the price they actually paid for the item.

 [/quote]

This is my favorite.  Now we are going to have the government enact legislation to regulate the free market and capitalism?  Regulate?  Hell, this proposal would "establish" the market, not regulate it.  This is how the free market works.  People pay for the perception of value and the margin gap is is what market forces have determined what price people are willing to bear.  The percentage doesn’t matter one iota. If a car costs $1 to manufacture, but the market is willing to pay $10,000 for it, guess what?  The price of the car should be $10,000, not some fraction above cost.

Every one of your proposals would either lead to larger, more intrusive government i.e., socialism, or even further expansion of the nanny state.

No thanks.

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