Thursday, December 1, 2011

From Here to There

This week I watched an hour long presentation made by two German pioneers (Andreas Popp and Rico Albrecht) in money-system thinking, which laid out the situation we're in, and what we might do about it. My wife, who yawns loudly at all talk of usury, compound interest, bonds, credit money and high powered money etc., found it inspiring and easy to understand. Since we were both of the same opinion, I thought it only helpful to pass on in English the meat of the matter to any and all interested. What is particularly exciting about their presentation to me, was how closely it echoes Charles Eisenstein's plan (which can be read online for free, by the way).

The pair have coined a new word they base on an ancient Greek term for 'usurer' or 'moneylender' (danista) to denote the entire system we suffer under today; "Danistacracy" (Danistakratie in German). I imagine you've already heard of alternative names for our compound interest system, such as Corporatocracy or Kleptocracy, which are instructive enough, but I think this one nails it, since the dynamic that really does the damage is compound interest. Far be it from me to assert this or that term as the best, and Danistacracy is certainly not catchy, but in its meaning the word is accurate and descriptive.

Just as with Charles Eisenstein and Franz Hoermann (and others), the pair are at pains to point out that it's not individual, evil people who are in the way of a Better World, but a system which organizes society along particular lines, with a particular flow and dynamic. To quote Charles Eisenstein once again:
This movement isn’t about the 99% defeating or toppling the 1%. You know the next chapter of that story, which is that the 99% create a new 1%. That’s not what it’s about. What we want to create is the more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible.
We can't stay as we are, lop off a few heads, and expect anything other than a 'hello new boss, just like the old boss' event. Until we build from out of our own wisdom and ingenuity a system which transcends and improves on this functionally rapacious Danistacracy we are glued to its inevitable collapse. We have to work on ourselves, do that work, before the systemic and broader social solutions can flower from those efforts. Happily (or frustratingly, depending on your point of view) work on self and work on better systems is more or less the same thing. "The more beautiful world our hearts tell us is possible" can only grow out of our intent to build it, and the know-how we learn while trying.

And now on to some graphics:


Popp and Albrecht use the classic pyramid shape to denote the hierarchical and upward flow of wealth to the 'controllers' of the compound interest system. The highest level are the owners and controllers of money themselves, the Danistacracy, who have placed between themselves and the lowest level the dual fogs of "Mainstream media" and "Political theatre", which together represent a kind of virtual reality the producers and doers are surrounded by at the logical bottom.

By the way, I have tweaked their graphic to make it appear more seamless than the original (theirs deploys distinct colours for each segment, and separate blocks to build the pyramid shape), preferring to try to reflect the general oneness of things. Of course there are lines of separation, but I don't believe they're absolute or impenetrable.

Of note is that Media sits above the "Political theatre" segment which, in the Popp/Albrecht presentation, is further subdivided into 'corrupt' and 'stupid' politicians; those who know the game is crooked but play it to line their own pockets, and those blindly loyal to this ideology or that. Either way, the media/politics region is, in its broad effect, a show, a self-sustaining virtual reality to divert attention from what the Matrix film so poetically called "The Real". This virtual reality hides the system's deepest dynamic, which is ongoing extortion of the producers and doers, an insatiable rapacity (how can usury be satisfied?) creating "The Desert of The Real", the destruction of the planet we are not permitted to see. Some figures to that end:
Professor Senf mentions the marriage of a poor boy to a rich girl. The figures are startling: Poor Boy earned 4,600 DM monthly, before tax, Rich Girl earned from interest over 650,000 DM daily (quoted from Bild, 27/7/1990). [snip] I wonder if Ms Quandt and Mr Klatten are still married, and if happily so.
Source

Albrecht informs his audience that a billionaire with a normal investment spread in various stocks and bonds would earn 50 one-family homes every year simply as a 'reward' for possessing that much money. (And no, money cannot 'work for you.' While the money might have been 'earned,' the interest on it most certainly is not.) Whether your earnings on interest are 650,000 DM a day or the money equivalent of 50 houses a year, that kind of money-growth has to be backed by something. In other words, there have to be millions upon millions of not-so-rich producers and doers creating the goods and services that give that 'earned' interest its value. How could it be otherwise? If all of us 'earned' from interest that kind of income, what would we do with it? It would of course be hyper-inflationary. In brief, the Danistacracy system requires, by design, extreme rich-poor divides. And they are stubborn divides, precisely because they are systemically generated and required.

Another factoid or 'data point' Albrecht brings to our attention, is that having some money in the bank, say, 300,000 euros, does not mean you are a net beneficiary of the usury system. The 6,000 or so you might earn a year (gross) does not compensate for the hidden cost of interest repayments passed on by manufacturers, shippers and retailers everywhere. Prices are up to twice as high as they would be in an interest-free money system, according to Abrecht. That is, even if you are a net saver, inflation corrodes your wealth 'invisibly'—as the money supply grows faster than goods and services can—, while the simple passing on of debt-costs to customers, concealed in prices, 'steals' wealth too, hands it over to the Danistacracy. Albrecht tells us it is only those with 1,000,000 or more in relatively liquid assets who actually net-benefit; the famous, symbolic 1%. Again, and very importantly, this does not make them the enemy. As Gandhi said,"Love the sinner, hate the sin."

Also prominent in Albrecht's talk is the exponential function. He cites the German Green Party's demand for 2.8% growth, but points out that such would mean Germany producing twice as much as 25 years from now, four times as much 50 years from now, eight times as much 100 years from now, and so on. Why should we want to do this? Why is economic growth Good Beyond Question? Why aren't we discussing the obvious absurdity of such proposals? Because the usury system—which its beneficiaries will protect at all costs—must be left behind if we are to leave the Perpetual Growth Grave Train behind (yes, I do mean "Grave"!)

So, what to do? Here is their suggested 'solution' in graphic form:

(I have translated "Soziales Bodenrecht" as "The Commons", even though "Allmende" is the proper German word for "commons." Any help from my German readership would be appreciated!)

Econosophy's slogan is, "Demote money, promote wealth", which I see as a description of a direction, not of a goal. The point is of course that the journey is the destination, the means are the ends. There can be no end point we reach where we say, with relief, "Finished! At last we can stop working!" Change is the only constant. However, humans still need 'where we are now and where we're headed' linear-thinking crutches, so graphic representations serve us still, and help focus the mind on the broader points. They are:
  • A money which rewards investment in community, which captures the Piraha saying, "I store my meat in the belly of my brother." Hoarding 'wealth' to protect Me And Mine is actually, seen over the long term, a fear-based addiction which exacerbates itself—self-fulfilling prophecy—while slowly destroying community. Investing in the health of the networks which enable our healthy living makes far more sense. Negative interest money is a way of promoting such a wisdom. It demotes money and promotes wealth.
  • A guaranteed income, which decouples money and work, ends the notion that we must 'earn' a living. If we each receive a share of those fruits generated by the collective ingenuity of humanity and nature, we are notionally freed by these gifts to carry on contributing to that process which sustains us. It demotes money and promotes wealth.
  • Expanding the commons encourages us to recognize that property is a harmful illusion, which can only engender more fear and greed. To promote true wealth, which can only be the health of the broader system—including environment and community—we must be invested in it, 'know' we are components of it, that as we treat it, so we treat ourselves. The commons is the correct domain for encouraging this deep sharing.
  • A free press is part of the open and transparent dissemination of information, which I feel would be an absolute inevitability should we manage to construct a social system based on the other three themes thus far discussed. I would have had "Open education system" (or similar) in its place, but hey, I don't agree with anyone on everything, and a free press is certainly something humanity could use right now.
As to the steps they—Popp and Albrecht—propose to get us from here to there, it starts with legal measures, and proceeds to what I think of as secession should the 'legal' path fail.

First, they will draw up the details for a truly publicly owned central bank with a monopoly on money creation—no more commercial bank money creation. They think of this as a money commons in a left-wing way; a money creation process owned by the state. Now, I'm not a 100% fan of this idea, because it concentrates too much power in one organization, but would support it with reservations; negative interest money, an expanding commons and guaranteed income are part of the plan. I also have not heard Popp and Albrecht state that no other monies (e.g., Ithaca Hours) would be permitted, so my reservations are minor. At least Popp and Albrecht aren't proposing this and only this.

Second, national debts are to be forgiven. Or, they would arrange a pro-actively organized sovereign default. The details here involve buying back bonds from e.g. pension institutions and 'ordinary' citizens who have invested in government debt, by exchanging them for what Albrecht refers to as Bankguthaben. This is, to my English ears, a strange choice of words, since Guthaben can be variously translated as 'credit,' 'assets,' 'balance,' 'deposit,' and even 'money on account.' So in the absence of information to the contrary, I'm going to assume they mean negative interest money, which is what Eisenstein proposes; the targeted buying off of existing government debt with non-debt, negative interest money. In that all pensioners would be the recipients of a guaranteed income, this is nowhere near as draconian as it might seem. As for inflation; yes, says Albrecht, this act would be a one-time inflationary pressure, but considering the current system is suicidally inflationary by design, a short burst of inflation followed by a balancing out is the wiser choice, particularly when the alternative is driving the usury system ever onwards, until there's nothing left but blackened toast to peck at and squabble over.

(A brief aside on 'all money is debt:' When I say non-debt money, I mean money the government prints into existence, not borrows into existence. I believe the distinction is an important one.)

Albrecht then asks, somewhat rhetorically, if the solution is so obvious, how come representative democracy isn't delivering us from the insanity of the current money system? He supposes, for the sake of pursuing the 'legal' path, that the parties might be Too Busy dealing with the humdrum to put together the necessary laws for enacting such a plan. Popp's and Albrecht's institute are, therefore, with the help of constitutional and other lawyers, preparing precisely such a body of law, which they will present to the German government shortly. At least then it cannot be said this 'legal' avenue was not trod.

Should it transpire that the Popp/Albrecht Statute (or whatever such proposals are called) is not greeted with euphoria, they plan, as a necessary second 'legal' step, to write a new constitution for Germany. Such is granted by existing law in the event that citizens feel the government is not acting in their best interests. Again, the likelihood such a new constitution would usher in the sustainable system proposed is vanishingly small, so where they expect to be most active, and where they are investing their real energies, is in building the new system from scratch; secession, more or less.

The virtual reality created by the Mainstream media and Political theatre is very effective. We cannot expect to attract anything close to a majority with such ideas. Indeed, Popp reckons 5% of the population a tipping-point amount. In Germany that would be about 4 million souls. That's a whole bag of bananas right there, enough to include a rich vein of skills such as farming, plumbing, housebuilding, car maintenance, energy production (renewables), doctors, hospitals, IT expertise, lawyers, and so on. The point is to network, pool resources, build, learn, prepare. The act of 5% of the population leaving the existing system behind would collapse it, but there would then be something new to move over to, the requisite experience to take the strain, so to speak. Of course, there are no guarantees, but I don't see Doing Nothing as a reasonable option, and agree with Popp and Albrecht that we are in fact morally obliged to rebel. The system is that decadent and criminal, and obviously so.

I want to close with a quote from Europe's new banking overlord, Mario Draghi (thanks to Charles Wheeler for this):
What is clear then is that any fiscal integration will require fiscal discipline aka austerity and this in turn is the prerequisite for any imminent ECB liquidity and for Eurobonds over the medium-term. Yes, budget cuts will deepen the recessions in the periphery. But, there is no way around it; politically, no solution in Europe will unlock the sovereign debt crisis without fiscal consolidation. All of the political leaders are aware that this is so.
"All of the political leaders are aware this is so." Money is God. Obey, or perish. Price is the One True emissary of value. If a thing does not make economic sense (money-sense), it does not make sense. If it does not make money-profit, if it does not generate Economic Growth, it is not worth considering.

This is the binary thinking we are up against. We are morally obliged to rebel.

38 comments:

Debra said...

Really nice post, Toby.
I'm too tired to comment on it intelligently tonight, but I'll reread it tomorrow.
Cheers.

Debra said...

There's a fair amount in your post that I won't pretend to understand, Toby.
If I'm reading you right, we do agree that the INTEREST problem is at the root of most of our current money crisis.
This observation ties in this current crisis with... the Reformation, as I like to keep hammering away at. WHAT can be bought, and what CAN'T BE BOUGHT, for example.
I think that there are basic flaws involved in holding that MONEY is the problem, rather than holding that OUR ATTITUDES AND ASSUMPTIONS ABOUT MONEY are the problem. There is a fine distinction there necessary to me.
Example : you hop on the public transport system, brush by the bus driver without seeing him, or saying hello, or smiling, and go sit where you want (because you are FREE to do so...).
There are basic assumptions behind that attitude. They are that : the bus driver IS PAID to do his job, and that the financial transaction IS SUFFICIENT. We might say that, under the ancient Greek logic.... the bus driver IS YOUR SLAVE. Because HE IS BOUGHT AND PAID FOR by the money that you are forking out. If you are paying for a service... you are also, in your mind, buying the person who does that service, by not recognizing that that person has an existence OUTSIDE OF THE WORK/MONEY EQUATION.
To me there is no question that there is a fundamental ARROGANCE behind the attitude of brushing by people who do things for you without seeing them, or acknowledging their existence.
That is why too much SELF CONGRATULATION on our modern parts about the abolition of slavery IS NOT A GOOD THING.
Because.. we have not abolished the ATTITUDES behind slavery, and we have reconstituted a NEW, MODERN SLAVERY which is perhaps no better than the old one.
The intangible, and unmeasurable plane of GRACE, as I also like to repeat, is THE PLACE where the work/money EQUATION is abolished, and where it MUST be abolished in order for us to avoid reconstituting slavery.
Saying "hello" and "thank you" to the bus driver, (spontaneously and without having an immaterial bogeyman behind you prodding you on with the promise that you will pass go, collect, and go to heaven, if you do so), KEEPS MONEY IN ITS PROPER PLACE AND WORKING FOR YOU.
But, as I remarked to Charles Eisenstein, no laws can FORCE you to do this...
That is why PUBLIC revolution never really works, and generally brings about THE OPPOSITE of what we are hoping for...
Grace is a PRIVATE matter...
Interesting plan for the dropouts...
Look at all of us dropouts.
If we can manage to reverse the negative image of so many UNEMPLOYED people who still profoundly believe that moneyed work is salvation, we will have made.. PROGRESS ??

Debra said...

Reading Charles Eisenstein, Toby, as I am now doing (on his blog, not the book..), I get goosebumps thinking about... BABEL.
The MONO experience.
While there is no more Jewish Protestant than I, I am not particularly thrilled with the ongoing steamroller action of MONO in Western civilization.
It scares the beejesus out of me.
"The corruption of the best engenders the worst", the first Church fathers said.
They were definitely on to something.
I like to say that mutability is profoundly anchored in our world.
That means that corruption is inevitable. EVERYWHERE. And since you like to say that all of our social structures are organic (natural ??), I will plug the idea that our ideas are organic too, and thus subject to CORRUPTION.
If we were WISER to the way the world plays out under our eyes, WE WOULD BE LESS AMBITIOUS FOR OURSELVES, AND FOR HUMANITY.
Excuse me while I go take my daily walk..

Toby said...

Yup. Usury is the beast. But the beast's heart grows from the soil of Separation, which cannot be abolished or repressed, only transcended. And The Way Is Hard.

I hammer at money because I do; it's what I've 'chosen' to work at. But also, to be more detailed about it than that generic platitude, because money is, in my opinion, the Symbol at the Gate, the glyph, the protective spell, the Virtual Reality that holds us bewitched, the Maze we get lost in. It's us in the end, but money is the key to that lock. Much flows from it.

That said, I agree with everything your wrote. I've said recently that money is a mirror we gaze into, not realizing it is a mirror. I like that, because it brings out the narcissism we all suffer from, and calls on us to wonder about what we might be projecting, both at the cultural and at the individual level (and as you know, I'm not a big believer in this thing, The Individual).

I hope your walk is replenishing and restorative.

joebhed said...

Congratulations.
Great work.
Have y'all seen this?
http://blip.tv/file/4111596

Especially as it is a German EconProfEm from Berlin School.
It's the best I've seen on this subject.
I will be back.

Thanks.

RogerGLewis said...

More burning coal Toby. Fantastic shelter from the idiot wind of the sunday newspapers. I really like the idea of 5% of people embarking on a resource based way of doing things would bring down the usurers and have a better place as a work in progress, awaiting the late adopters to go forward together as a society once more.

Toby said...

Hey Joe, great to see you here. What brought you to these radical shores?

I've not seen the English version of Senf's work, but have seen multiple of his German presentations, and read much of his original literature. He's a very clear thinking and able communicator, and stays true to what is right. And that is exactly what I like to see in a fellow human; honesty and a good sense of where true wealth lies. Thanks for the link though. And if anyone wants a more detailed explanation of why negative interest money makes so much sense at this stage, that talk is worth watching.

Have you read Charles Eisenstein's work, Joe? Here's a link to his chapter on negative interest, in case you're interested:

http://www.realitysandwich.com/sacred_economics_chapter_12

Roger, thank you again. I see you're becoming a musician and learning Swedish. Quite the challenge. I'm all for challenges. What inspired you to take on those mighty mountains?

RogerGLewis said...

Hi Toby,

Its great to see Charles Eisentiens new web site with his book available to read on line.
http://sacred-economics.com/online-text/
Came via my PBI volunteers feed great to see the word is getting out and the debate widening.
On music my Partner Johanna is a Composer and Clarinetist, when I retired I decided to learn guitar, I have always liked singing and since we moved to sweden ( Johannas from here) I decided to take it more seriously, the Language its nice to know what the Children are saying when being cheeky, I have a busy Winter in that direction I have not been a diligent student up to now.

Malagodi said...

I'm currently in the opening chapters of James Martin's "Men Against the State", a historical look at the attempts at American anarchism.

It is rather amusing to read about Josiah Warren and his practical experiments in equitable production and labor-cost economics in light of all the modern goings on in international finance along side the Occupy movement (if we can still call it that.)

He was completely opposed, in 1825, to the existing money system and especially interest or usury. His system of labor-costs economics and labor notes as currency succeeded pretty well at avoiding the banks and the inequities caused by them. He also vehemently opposed the trade guilds and apprenticeship systems as an unfair monopolizing of skills and intellectual property.

But it is also interesting that his system tended to break with the introduction of industrial machines. (Quakerism survives, but Warrenism doesn't?)

So I reply to the title of this post with a smirk and a quote from John Giorno: "We got here yesterday, we're here now, and I can't wait to leave tomorrow."

Toby said...

Hi Stephen,

I can't wait to leave either, but that's been a problem I've had all my life. For me the grass is always greener on the other side.

Yeah, that Labour Theory of Value is a bitch, but it's actually functionally correct for a socioeconomics which only distributes money via paid labour. But as you point out, with machines and other forms of automation, not to mention racketeering and usury, LTV does not cut the mustard.

And there's the cultural issue too. I was having a chat with the parents of one of my daughter's friends yesterday, and mentioned guaranteed income. Their first reaction was, "But what would motivate people to do anything?" That sense of 'earning a living' and 'humans are lazy by nature' is a deeply rooted assumption, a curse. The whole idea behind 'being productive', as diametrically opposed to 'laziness' is so ingrained, rethinking The System first requires rethinking our habits of thought, our reflexive reactions to The New. Only when we're 'ready' in our millions to Do Life with a new paradigm can we evolve out of The Old.

That said, as soon as I presented some counterarguments in support of guaranteed income, they softened. Even the idea that we don't in fact need money at all, technically speaking, they took in their stride. That we only need it culturally, seemed, from their reactions, to be an idea whose time has come (to them at least). I get that more and more though. So in between my bouts of childish depression and impatience to get to the other side, it's clear a growing number of people are thinking deeply about The System, each in their own way, and are ready for The Whacky New, at least to listen it, and not reject in a knee-jerk way. I think that's an enormous step.

RogerGLewis said...

So off went the Emperor in procession under his splendid canopy. Everyone in the streets and the windows said, "Oh, how fine are the Emperor's new clothes! Don't they fit him to perfection? And see his long train!" Nobody would confess that he couldn't see anything, for that would prove him either unfit for his position, or a fool. No costume the Emperor had worn before was ever such a complete success.

"But he hasn't got anything on," a little child said.

"Did you ever hear such innocent prattle?" said its father. And one person whispered to another what the child had said, "He hasn't anything on. A child says he hasn't anything on."

"But he hasn't got anything on!" the whole town cried out at last.

The Emperor shivered, for he suspected they were right. But he thought, "This procession has got to go on." So he walked more proudly than ever, as his noblemen held high the train that wasn't there at all.

We are like that little Child speaking truth to the Grown ups Toby. This is a nice translation of the story we all so often recall. I for one have not read it even to my Children, I shall put that right at Bed time tonight.
http://www.andersen.sdu.dk/vaerk/hersholt/TheEmperorsNewClothes_e.html

Toby said...

Hi Roger,

that translation reads really well. And that's a good point; I don't think I've read it to my children either (though now they're 14 and 10 years old), but I don't think you're ever to old to hear the great stories. And this one's time has well and truly come. Yet again.

Sounds like a very pleasant life you've built, or rather are building for yourselves. I like your singing on that Bob Dylan song. Getting it in sync with guitar playing that has to be in sync with a drum machine isn't easy. Keep on keepin' on; rewards arise from the process of slowly getting better!

And thanks for all the cool links. Keep 'em comin'!

Debra said...

It's neat to meet different, interesting people here on this blog.
We are a rather international lot, right ?

Toby said...

Celebrate diversity! We don't tolerate differences here, we bask in them, are thankful for them, are driven to distraction by them, are creative because of them. What could be better.

(Do rhetorical questions require a question mark?)

RogerGLewis said...

Hi Toby,

Yes masters of war whilst the song is basically two Chords and a couple of passing notes introduces challenges when singing at the same time particularly for me. Practice makes perfect but singing and playing for me is about Catharsis and a journey into myself , I feel that if I feel it then it is an honest opinion or interpretation which I am happy to share. I often just go with a first take or rough approximation I guess I'm a Diamond in the rough kinda guy.
Life here in Sweden is wonderful, I retired after selling my Business back in 2003 I was 39 then,after living a rock n roll life of considerable excess for a couple of years I became a father and started to see life rather differently. As the financial Swindle grew to ever greater proportions I started to try to figure out why my Bankers had started behaving in what seemed an irrational way, to my way of thinking and doing business,of course I found my answer .Their rules were different to the published set.
Johanna and I decided to move to sweden for the Children's education and the view back to the UK has got bleaker and bleaker.
I am still excited about the future and look forward to living in accordance with whats in my heart the balance of logic and intuition was lacking in my life for to long and I feel I was indoctrinated to accept that as being a pre determined natural given. I now see that it isn't so.
All the best, by the way our two are nearly 6 and just turned 2 Its great to be able to be a full time parent I treasure that opportunity more than anything else.

Debra said...

Hey Roger...
I feel a little left out....
My twenty one year old French daughter who is not totally bilingual, but who nevertheless passes for an American is studying string instrument making in the U.K...
Yes, the U.K. looks rather bleak from her/our viewpoint, but hey, France looks even bleaker with all that LOSS OF FAITH IN THE ENLIGHTENMENT blueprint.
But she is making beautiful TRADITIONAL objects with her hands, and using tools that cost an arm and a leg, as well as being highly specialized, to do so.
Let's take A GIANT STEP BACK over the industrial revolution, why not ??
My husband and I raised our children at home, my husband having his office at home.
We ate all our meals together until the children were in high school (except breakfast, because I am NOT an early riser...).
Nothing like eating those meals together to give a sense of family, huh ?

RogerGLewis said...

Hi Debra,
Making Stringed instruments sounds like Bliss to me.
There is A luthier in Gothenborgh called Michael sanden he does a course twice a year where you can build an acoustic guitar I am keen to go on it.
I have a collection of guitars and have been researching a business based upon the electronics and computer software side of Guitar Technology.

Family meals and seeing the children everyday is time that is irreplaceable no amount of money could compensate. Not sure what will happen with the french economy its been hijacked by the Banks and their wayward profligacy. I love France have spent a lot of Time on the isle D'Oleron and down in Cannes
neither recently Paris is actually my Favourite City a wonderful place, Stockholm is pretty Nice too and runs a close second. London comes nowhere on my list I lived there for many years and have no affection for the place what so ever same goes for Bristol where I lived for 6 years before coming toi sweden.

Toby said...

Roger, you sure have been around! And a traveled person has experiences those who stay put do not, though vice versa of course. That said I'm almost always happier in the company of the restless-at-heart, who have had deep and long exposure to multiple cultures. They're the types I find most interesting. My wife, for example, is the daughter of a diplomat, and had lived all over the world by the time we met.

I hear what you say about the art of performance, about that process being cathartic. I'm drawn to the idea of being on a journey which has important stages, and the process of improving skill-level as one goes. But honesty and commitment to the art, whether singing, writing, dancing, whatever, must remain for the art to have lasting value.

All in all it sounds like you've set up a very nice life. Which takes courage.

Ditto to you, Debbie. Variety is the spice of life and all that, but birds of a feather flock together too (cliche hour here at Econosophy!) it seems. My family is very domestic, spend a lot of time together. Indeed, one of the reasons I left work was to find more time for family, find more energy to be more patient and generous. And here I sit typing into the Internet!

But I am an early riser, which Berlin did to me. As a musician I was for a long time a very late riser indeed. Perhaps that mode will come again...

RogerGLewis said...

I'm High Mileage but low maintenance Toby.
I am 47 now but feel as fresh and optimistic as I did when I was 17. Fatherhood has brought me contentment that my Career as a Property Developer and Real Estate Consultant never could or Did.
My most enduring pleasures and achievements are all based on where I am and what I am doing now as a Dad and pursuing my musical Muse.
I am very interested in Folk Rock and Traditional Folk and also Blues and Jazz. But its Folk as a vehicle for Social Protest and reform that I am really headed towards as my particular Artistic Goal possibly in Swedish.

This is one of my Favourite Swedish Songs.

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=OojGSAR_STQ

Translation.

I have paid off in life, stood in the back of the queue
never had vacation or taking out somebody pay
I have lived like a millionaire, and treated myself all
the living on credit and pay thousandfold

Refrain:
I understand now and I know what I want
What I do and use the future
I will buy wings for money and fly out over the meadows
I will buy wings for money and fly out over the meadows

For there is a special sense to just be there
to do what you need is to do what you want
, I glimpsed a fortune in the shadow of a dream
in which the birds are wild when they awake from their sleep

Refrain

When I have flown a thousand mil, I fly into a thousand
To do that you need is to do what you want

My wings will I pay with a love that is true
My wings I'll win and say "Hey, I won '
But you win no freedom without sacrifice who you were
and turn into the wind and scream out your answer

Refrain

Toby said...

I like that, "High mileage, low maintenance." Does Johanna agree? I'd be tempted to call myself low maintenance, but if Annette (my wife) heard me, I think she'd burst out laughing!

Have you heard of Moneybrother (Swedish band)? I like some of their work. Here's one of my faves of theirs:

http://www.youtube.com/watch?v=HdEtRpJcw08

RogerGLewis said...

Johanna would I think agree on the High Mileage. Low Maintenance , Not so sure? Hadn't come across Moneybrother there are a lot of great bands in Sweden
I really like the Dance Band thing which is quite a Swedish institution. I keep threatening to start a dance band maybe it will happen soon their really cheesey rockabilly rock n roll almost skiffley affairs but good honest party fun.

Debra said...

Roger, that clip came out the year that my eldest was born. The people actually LOOK HAPPY IN IT...
Listening to the music brought me back to those (not so good...) old days when I was steeped in Ingmar Bergman. My favorite ? The American spoof (I think it was American) where everybody is speaking pseudo Swedish, and it sounds really really funny.
The U.K. string instrument school accepts everybody, Roger, and although it is in an out of the way Midlands area, well, the Midlands is pretty country from what I've seen, and the guitar course... well, it assembles some of the most original people on the planet, according to my daughter. All ages, of course.
Back later. Waiting for skype..
Cheers, all.

RogerGLewis said...

I am not very familiar with Bergman although he is a swedish Institution, I think I will embark on a proper viewing of his body of work a really good couple of Recommendations of Swedish films books recently is the Film. As it is in Heaven,( http://www.imdb.com/title/tt0382330/)
about a Conductor moving to a local community and recovering from a crisis in his Artistic and spiritual equilibrium its a beautiful film that made me cry very few films have ever done that. Good Will Hunting is one of the others. A very good book about growing up in Sweden is Popular Music in Vittula
http://www.amazon.com/Popular-Music-Vittula-Mikael-Niemi/dp/1583225234
Somehow Sweden seems to have avoided the the triumph of Style and Show over substance and the greater levels of equality of opportunity or Lack of it ( I'm a Glass Half Full Guy ) do seem to me, to mean that people are both happier and more grounded. I think Swedes are realists and do not tend to spin in the Anglo/American sound bite fashion.
It used to strike me as something to be suspicious of when I started coming here 7 years ago and I thought it was a pretence of naiveté I have started to form the conclusion that the Swedes have a connectedness to the Land and environment and each other that has all but disappeared in British Society.

Martin said...

Hear,hear, Toby!
Dragi still has a pressurized head of idealogic bullshit and hot air charged under his dickey. All the first world boys do. Soon enough the pressure will come fissing out of their sharply pressed linens; the whistle call to begin the haircuts. Plutocratic investment portfolios, trust fund babies, fat gleeful pensioners with eyes for Aruba will all see their dosh piles shrink to the width and breadth of a speck of butthole dust. And then when we're all shoulder to shoulder in full, undeniable disbelief it'll be a time like no other to rethink the whole story, as spongy, prickly, and purulent a story as ever was hatched in the barren delusionary brainpans of men imagining themselves as gods. Dry drunks, forcibly cured of delusions of grandeur, off with our foppish clothes, foolish godmen, off with doltish platform shoes that let our big fat leering heads reach over the clouds.

And return to our true form, the form of mere men, forms among forms in a singular world of forms.

Check it out, God smiles upon us when we think and dream like mere men, like human beings! Our vision is the next step for all of humanity. And though the step is difficult, the choice is simple in its clarity - behind us is only choking dust and ruin. Ahead is a rich potential, free from the deleterious ego of the snickering godmen and ripe with the inate cooperative spirit of human beings.
Illuminated by the beginning, and the end. Lit day and night, through heat and cold, by God's own approval.

BTW, my guess is "Soziales Bodenrecht", literally social ground rights, sounds very much like a modern term for commons. Allmende sounds more like the historical term for the same thing.

Alles Gute

Toby said...

Wow Martin! Waxing lyrical and with fire in your belly. Bring. It. On!

"God smiles upon us when we think and dream like mere men, like human beings!"

I love that line! That's an image I'd like to riff off, if I may...

We are. We are god. In wise knowledge of this unifying perception we smile in rich humility, in celebration of the uniqueness of connected-each. From this emerges a contentment which is 'godness' at its healthiest, and we could be that interbeing. A shift of perception a way.

Rupert Russell said...

Hello all, I'm Toby's brother, and I justed wanted to say how much I enjoy your contributions here, I wish we could all meet someday and let the enlightenment glow. It's a real privilege being part of the great change, although sometimes a tad frustrating.

In my spare time (?) I drum in a band with 3 fantastic blokes and we are working on our second album. I though you might like to hear a track from the first one, 'Belly Full of Sunshine'. It is a song Neil and I wrote about a difficult period in my marriage. It's called Hold On, I hope you enjoy it.

http://www.thelayers.me.uk/videos/

Debra said...

Hi all,
That's a beautiful song, Rupert. Very nice arrangement, too. I am copying and sending to my daughter.
I wanted y'all to know that I spent a little time in YOUR mother country, last year, and two years ago, and it is really, and truly beautiful.
It must be the American in me that gives me that sense of awe in being surrounded with... the countryside, but the old buildings that materialize our COMMON HISTORY...
I am not an enormous fan of Ingmar, because he is very depressing, in my opinion. But one film that really hit home was "Fanny and Alexander"... It is not currently available in DVD, last time I checked, but it gives some important clues as to why some of us are so depressed...
Just discovered Greg Braden, thanks to a new friend.
You know, right ? (Lucky you, Roger, to be a glass half full person. I'm not... I am a professional melancholic, lol.)
Cheers, all.

Rupert Russell said...

Thanks Debra, much appreciated.

Toby said...

That is indeed a strong song. A very strong song. As they say up north, you've done yourself proud! Well done, Rupert.

Игры рынка said...

Looks like I am late to the show but since you referenced to this post of yours I had a look and now have 10 minutes for a quick comment. I can elaborate if anybody is still reading / has interest ...

I have to honestly say that I am less than impressed. I am very suspicious and skeptical of everything which says lets break it all down and then build up by pieces. Normally (and there are plenty of cases in history) this ends up pretty badly. I.e. worse than before. We are also miles away from squeezing value from our current system before we can confidently can say that we need to start from scratch. People do not like and avoid drastic changes at all costs. So step by step...

So things that I would do tomorrow to fix the most pending issues of existing financial system:

1. Set central bank interest rates at 0 permanently. If interest rates are still deemed as a useful instrument to regulate economic activity, then use taxes with the same purpose. I.e. central bank interest rate of 5% is replaced with a tax of 5%. The process of decision making of central bank remains intact, just the instrument changes.

2. Stop issuing government bonds. Government spending will be financed by the government bank, i.e. central bank

3. Give everybody, i.e. each citizen and each domestic legal entity, access to a central bank account for transactional purposes and savings account for savings purposes.

4. Recognize that right for savings is a human right and remunerate all savings in the savings accounts at the central bank at running inflation rate. However, there will be a limit set on the volume of eligible savings which shall be related to the income of the nation (lets say nominal annual GDP per capita or similar)

5. Split national payment system from banking system. Banks will be able to give loans but they will NOT have access to the lender of last resort and will have to pay full price in order to attract funds. This will avoid the headaches of bank regulation and moral hazard. No more bazookas will be needed. No more bank panics, no more lost savings.

Might be enough for now :) If you read carefully the list above, you might realize that all we need is a couple of small changes to existing laws before we can abandon tons of unnecessary regulation. And the beauty of these changes is that for the majority of population it will be transparent. However changes to the existing financial architecture will be devastating.

rgds
sergei

Toby said...

Hi Sergei,

thanks for the ideas, which are, as you say, small, gentle steps compared to Andreas Popp's and Rico Albrecht's Plan B, and yet even your 'modest' proposals are probably radical to most, particularly those in power. Hence, in many ways, even yours are far outside reasonable discourse. So, in the manner of wenn schon denn schon, my preference is to concentrate on the depth of the problem, and deal with it at its roots.

But believe me, I'm now very well aware the greater attractiveness of gentle baby steps which lead us slowly and carefully in a different direction. Who knows, maybe what you propose will unfold, and be an improvement, but I believe it can't be enough. We can't afford to grow economically any more. And, on top of that enormous, paradigm shattering challenge, humans are no longer economically needed (technological unemployment), especially if we start to 'engineer' a steady state growth system in earnest. That is, usury is too environmentally costly because it forces growth on the economy, and paid labour is now the wrong value- (or wealth-) distribution system. As for the right to save, fair enough, but save what and to what end? Money is just information which we think buys us security. It doesn't any more. Now, I'm the first to admit that this cultural phenomenon, this psychically embedded money=wealth equation, is very hard to change quickly, but, like Eisenstein says, we now need miracles to have a chance of something close to civilisation a century from now. Short term is now long term. We are out of time.

I don't write this stuff (pass on other people's ideas) because I expect a great mass of people to embrace it and implement it upon my say so, I write to learn and teach. The ideas are seeds towards a new way of understanding wealth (see my latest post on the UN's call for a redefinition of wealth). The challenges humanity faces will not permit gentle baby steps towards a more sustainable system. If only they did! Like I said, we need miracles now. And that means I can't tell you how ideas such as Plan B might be embraced, only that such plans and ideas need to be extremely radical to help. Once we redefine and newly understand wealth, and that perpetual growth is impossible, and that we can indeed value each other without earning money via a job (guaranteed income), all sorts of things like 'saving' make no sense any more. Property itself becomes old hat, cumbersome, an inconvenience. Yes, this is too much for most people, but there it is. All ecosystems everywhere are in a state of decline. Without their health, ours is gone. It's that simple.

To get a far more nuanced and well grounded sense of what Plan B is and why it makes sense, please read Eisenstein's Sacred Economics. I suspect Eisenstein knows nothing of Plan B, and vice versa, but the thinking is similar. In a 2-3000 word post I can only introduce the ideas, not justify them. That work must be done in longer texts. Book-length.

Игры рынка said...

Thanks for the tip. Will add the book to my reading list.

But I think that the problem is quite over-exaggerated.

Firstly, the problem is not money per se. Thus I am clearly against things like negative interest rates. Who has a right to decide on that? On basis of which arguments? What makes you think that you actually solve the problem of distribution of wealth rather than not make it even worse? Wealthy have more than enough ways to optimize their taxes to so that Buffett's secretary pays higher taxes than Buffett himself. Such "reforms" as negative interest rates are very naive. And that is a soft assessment.

That is different from me saying that interest rates should be zero. Because setting interest rates to zero is in fact equivalent to aligning reality with ... reality. Money per se do not and therefore should not earn anything. Or lose anything. If it is written 100, it should stay 100 forever. Like the font of the text. Yes, central banks and the whole modern economics is completely confused about differences between nominal values and real processes and like to play with interest rates. But I will not go deep into it here.

I am also far from sure that our system is bad and/or requires drastic changes, that we are running out of time and therefore need urgent revolutions. I think that our current system is quite good. Actually it is very good. Good at delivering what we ask it to deliver. And the things we ask for are, primarily, GDP growth and budget deficits. However, and ignoring that these two goals are inherently contradicting, these are the things that are least relevant for our individual well-being. I am not saying that measurement techniques are bad or that we should also measure other things like pollution. I am saying that regardless of how they are measured they are irrelevant to anybody but probably economists and politicians who enjoy thinking about this stuff while shaving themselves in the morning in front of a mirror. These things are simply too abstract for any practical use.

Milton Friedman, a man to some extent responsible for the ideological and economic mess we are in, once said that in order to stop worrying about balance of payments we should stop publishing it. So in order to stop worrying about growth and budget deficits we should stop publishing it. And then, all of a sudden, the next thing is line will be unemployment, health care, pollution etc. Things to which each of us can relate directly and thus things which are important.

We do not need any revolution in thinking. We are already thinking. And a lot. Each of us. But only about things which are irrelevant to us.

Toby said...

Negative interest alone won't solve anything, as you say, hence the other aspects. Plan B has four components, which are each important, Charles Eisenstein's plan has about nine components, if memory serves. And nobody has the right to decide on that, that's true, but if the idea, aligned with the other components, makes good systemic sense to enough people, perhaps it will be experimented with. Which is what the folks at Plan B expect. Small numbers beginning experiments with this stuff and building an alternate system. A long shot for sure, but like I say, these is desperate times.

0% and things staying as they are, 100 as 100 forever, is flat out impossible. Nothing in nature is like that. Things rot, values change (value being a totally subjective phenomenon), new ideas and technologies change our need for this or that resource. 0% is impossible. Negative interest makes far more sense. All this is in Eisenstein's book, but it comes from an early 20th century businessman/thinker Silvio Gesell. Very few economists are for this idea, so whatever mainstream economists think is of no concern to me.

As to pollution and more broadly handling our waste intelligently, or helping our environment stay robust by giving it manageable amounts of our waste to process, that is very important. This includes a generally intelligent attitude to natural processes, such as soil fertility and water management. Very important stuff. The degree to which people worry about these things, whether economists, politicians or John Doe, is nowhere near as relevant as their running out, being abused, etc. Civilizations collapse because they don't manage their resources wisely. No, that is neither good nor bad in one way of thinking, but being a human and a lover of life, I want us to do a better job of that. We could, but likely we won't, and those precious material comforts this system delivers so well will disappear, and then all hell will break loose. Unless the planet's ecosystems are fine, as you appear to suggest, or we have technological tricks up our sleeve to deal with that stuff.

But then, if there is no problem there, there's technological unemployment. We need humans for economic production less and less. That means waged labour is quickly becoming an out of date mechanism for equipping people with purchasing power. Again, this means a guaranteed income, or similar, is going to be necessary any time now, is already necessary in my opinion. The only sensible way I have seen of 'funding' this is with negative interest. The amount by which the money supply contracts is reintroduced into the economy via guaranteed income. This is also in Charles Eisenstein's book. But that duo won't work on its own either. See the book for more details.

And as for ecosystems, Paul Hawken's "The Ecology of Commerce" is packed with data on how bad a state our supporting ecosystems are in. There are many others. People like James Lovelock think the human population will be in the low hundreds of millions by the end of this century. So compared to him I'm an optimist. And Lovelock is not alone in that assessment, not by a long shot.

And just because we are thinking a lot does not mean we don't need a revolution in our thinking. Quantity is not quality.

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Roger Lewis said...

Hi Toby,

Spam has its uses I guessso thanks to Celia Jerry . I have revisited this article of yours from 2011 Toby amongst a lot of other strands of enquiry over the past 6 years or so. Did you attend this protest I wonder https://www.youtube.com/watch?v=LscC-H7F1eE Andreas Popp I think makes some very interesting points. Wishing you and yours well.
All the best Roger

Roger Lewis said...

I Keep coming Back to this Post Toby, I have linked to it yet again with my Latest on European Democracy. All the best
Roghttps://letthemconfectsweeterlies.blogspot.se/2017/02/austerity-enlargement-and-monetary.html

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