May 13, — am 3 Comments Bernard Lietaer Image credit: Willi Filz, Brandeins We are deeply saddened by the loss of our dear friend, Bernard Lietaer, who passed away recently at his home in Hoherhagen, Germany with loved ones. Bernard was a financial justice warrior; a fierce advocate, sharp businessman and revered educator who dedicated his extraordinary career to exploring global monetary systems, uncovering truths about their effect on civilization and shaping their evolution through rigorous research, eloquent writing and heartfelt lectures around the world. Later, as a central banker, he designed the European Currency Unit, the precursor — and what many have said was a superior approach — to the Euro we have today. As the Great Recession wreaked havoc in , and austerity measures constricted the flow of national currencies in debt-saddled nations like Greece, Bernard urged Greek cities and towns to adapt and create their own parallel currency system. And long before blockchain technology emerged to offer a new set of tools for currency development, Bernard advocated for an alternative, multidisciplinary view of money which drew on findings from history, psychology and ecology to expose untruths about the global monetary system, inspiring discourse, debate and global action by entrepreneurs and activists to redesign money from the ground up. Bernard believed that communities could design complementary currencies, alongside and in support of their national currencies, which would better serve their needs, and better protect and stimulate local, national and global economies through the kind of diversity that generates resilience in nature.
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What need you, being come to sense, But fumble in a greasy till And add the halfpence to the pence And prayer to shivering prayer, until You have dried the marrow from the bone? It will be another 10 minutes before the doors open. A woman in a fur coat sits in her parked car with its license tags about to expire. She runs the engine to keep warm while others shuffle around in silence, dodging any direct eye contact.
This is a result of high housing prices, a steep cost of living, and a culture of spending—a hangover from better days. Trade, however, has never been so brisk or with such a dramatically broadened demographic as it is now.
This scramble for money is playing out globally in towns and rural areas alike. Record unemployment, or underemployment, has triggered a vicious cycle of lack of demand for goods and services that leads to more layoffs in key industries. The mood, to put it mildly, grows dark and defaults into despair, sometimes even abdication, as next steps are unclear.
In the history of the United States, this is the first time when the younger generation of people will be poorer and less educated than their parents.
And when Social Security, Medicare, and unemployment benefits are included, nearly half of the nation lived in a household that received a government check. Nearly half are non-Hispanic white, 18 percent are black, and 26 percent are Latino.
Perhaps the most surprising finding is that 28 percent work full-time, year round. These estimates defy the stereotypes of low-income families. Today, 80 percent of Americans report that they are living paycheck to paycheck. This is nearly double the figure in , just before the banking crisis. Even those who have enough of it are obliged to deal with its vicissitudes: crashes, devaluations, inflation, whatever the financial crisis du jour may be. We can point to rampant cronyism in government on all levels, slack or nonexistent enforcement of regulations, and good old-fashioned greed, from corporate avarice to the covetousness of innumerate plebs who got in over their heads in the real estate market.
Clearly, however, on the flip side of the coin, we do live in a world of unparalleled achievements, facilitated through competitive markets driven by a competitive financial system. The best and the brightest are rewarded at stratospheric levels, which in turn, has spurred on even greater striving for more innovation, ingenuity, and originality. There is a yearning to put into language something that still remains elusive, lingering in the shadows of awareness just out of reach.
That is what this book offers to illuminate. It is not about how to invest, save, spend, hide, keep, or give away money. Rather, the aim is to unmask the true nature of money and the monetary system that we have inherited. Money is merely a human construct, as will be shown, that was designed in and for another age.
By understanding how money really works, we might then create a different system that supports the kind of society we desire for ourselves and for future generations. This is about how to make a sustainably abundant future a reality.
And while money is the culprit, it is not guilty in the way one would suspect. A much deeper systemic issue is at work. Before anything can be changed, it must be understood. To understand, it has to be taken apart, investigated, and questioned before it can be put back together again in a new configuration that would support a truly functioning system.
There are both a general lack of awareness and widely held erroneous assumptions as to how money drives trillions of daily transactions and influences every aspect of daily life. At the core of these assumptions is the false belief that it is merely the lack of money that is the problem. If there were more to go around, everything could be put to rights. The good news is that the know-how and gumption needed to bring about a transformation are already here.
Recognizing that transformation is possible, emboldened by new monetary innovations, we can realize a brighter future for everyone. In this future, meaningful work would be available to all; the sick and elderly would be cared for, and children would have adequate shelter, health care, nutrition, and education; threats to our environment would end; unstable urban and rural areas would evolve into viable, sustainable communities; and seemingly insurmountable social chasms would be bridged.
In short, life and all living systems would flourish. This is not an idealistic dream, but rather a pragmatic goal, achievable within one generation. Currently, we stand at an extraordinary inflection point in human history.
Several intergenerational, even millennial cycles are coming to a close, including the end of the Cold War 50 years , of the Industrial Age years , of Modernism years , of hyperrationalism 2, years , and of patriarchy 5, years. The universe is now more malleable, given advances in science and technology, yet nothing of true value and longevity will materialize until money is mastered and humanity is no longer its slave.
Just as computer operating systems become obsolete, incapable of performing the functions needed, so do our systems of money. The first step is to take stock of where we are. The situation is particularly dire in Europe: Greece, Spain, Ireland, the United Kingdom, and Italy are in a credit crunch not seen in generations. Even in the countries that were up until recently considered booming, nations like the BRICs—Brazil, Russia, India, and China—development was highly uneven, with entire regions experiencing scarcity and need.
Now it would appear that their economic bloom is wilting. Stooped, with his torso almost parallel to the floor, his hands gnarled and disfigured with arthritis, he dutifully double-bags the heavy items. He does agree, reluctantly, that the small salary makes a big difference to the household.
Now, four decades later, following a series of low-paying jobs, she lost her unionized custodial job at a local university due to an on-site injury. Until recently, she made ends meet by working for two agencies as a caregiver to homebound, usually bedridden, elderly folks. She cleaned houses to further supplement her income. Her employers did not pay any benefits or cover car expenses as she zigzagged across the greater metropolitan area to work her shifts.
One day she collapsed on the job and was rushed to the hospital, where she spent almost 10 days in intensive care due to complications from asthma and pneumonia. On the day-to-day personal level, the mandate to perform and increase profits percolates through all industry sectors, making life stressful and highly competitive for all concerned.
Everything is tied to the financial bottom line. A seasoned public relations executive, he works for a boutique technology agency in northern California.
I do pick up new clients by referral, but the heat is on constantly to get new accounts in the door. The office is mostly run by nonpaid interns getting work experience, while my workload increases.
The media executives portrayed in the TV series Mad Men, with their long boozy lunches and even longer expense accounts, are as dead these days as Elvis.
The workplace for many has become a complete nightmare. The competition for jobs is like the scramble for lifeboats on the Titanic. If you have a job, the atmosphere at work is often toxic.
Everyone is scared stiff of being sacked. On the other hand, those that do have resources fear that they will lose it all to some slick sales guy conning them out of their last dime so he can make his sales projections. They feel immobilized and unable to navigate the roller coaster of the financial tsunami.
Americans owe more on student loans than on credit cards. A medical student who dreams of a general practice in a rural area or a poor neighborhood or of volunteering with Doctors without Borders in hopes of giving back to society is coerced into relinquishing these aspirations and becoming a specialist to garner higher fees.
A graduate with a passion for science is pressed to vacate the idea of teaching and go for a pharmaceutical sales job instead. This leaves a number of critical vocations not attracting the best or the brightest. The current scuttling of jobs is reaching epidemic proportions. Graduates in the United Kingdom, for example, can anticipate 70 applications for one job opening and have been told to flip burgers rather than counting on attaining positions commensurate with their educations, leaving them with no means of addressing their liabilities.
Money is the most powerful secular force. Financial issues affect all economic classes, from the rich to the poor. Empathy for the plight of those who suffer from scarcity comes easier. The damage created by poverty and want is pervasive, devastating, and easy to understand. Yet the levels of competition and struggle indelibly linked to money propagate through all levels of society. Less recognized and definitely not generally understood or empathized with are the formidable issues of those who are affluent.
However, it was a seven-figure cash inheritance from my grandfather that just ripped us apart. As the girl, I got the largest share of the estate. The family has been in litigation for years. The only ones getting rich are the lawyers. Those who are seen as wealthy are often the objects of the fears, needs, and expectations of those who lack money.
The prosperous must question if their personal relationships are based on money or status, rather than genuine caring and true feelings for the friendship. As a consequence, people of means tend to socialize only with others of similar financial and social backgrounds and ultimately come to experience a deep sense of isolation.
This lack of trust is reflected in the measures taken to ensure their security—the higher walls built around their homes, possessions, and lives, literally and psychologically.
The tabloid press and reality TV are filled with family feuds and the nagging fears and general angst regarding inheritances, wills, and pressures brought to bear regarding proper behavior. Even the most intimate relationships—choosing the right partner in marriage—are subject to all-important prenuptial agreements, yet another financially secured contract.
And finally, and perhaps most important, is the crisis of identity, particularly for those who have inherited wealth. In an environment and culture where so much is shaped by financial worth, the scarcest commodity seems to be trust.
Indeed, each of these four conditions shares a common thread—the loss of trust in society, in friends, in family, and finally, in oneself. Feelings of futility permeate all strata of society. This sense of worthlessness often manifests as rampant consumerism.
Young girls across the globe trade sexual favors with wealthier men to procure luxury items such as designer handbags and couture. The practice is euphemistically called compensated dating. The drama of money plays out in all segments of society.
Some 28 states have passed private public partnerships PPPs enabling statutes. Once something is privatized, the new owners will certainly charge fees for the use of any once-free public utility or will increase existing tolls.
Consequently, taxpayers will end up paying twice for the same infrastructure, and the second time could be more expensive than the first, given that many infrastructure assets are monopolies.
Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity into Prosperity
People across the globe have lost faith in the ability of government and business leaders to resolve the problems facing humanity. The global economic depression has shattered the lives of Andean peasants, African fishermen, corporate executives, and the average household alike. Despite claims that the current economic malaise is ending, the general public remains unconvinced, suspicious, and shaken. In our cash-strapped economy, privatization is proffered as a solution for many of our financial woes.
What need you, being come to sense, But fumble in a greasy till And add the halfpence to the pence And prayer to shivering prayer, until You have dried the marrow from the bone? It will be another 10 minutes before the doors open. A woman in a fur coat sits in her parked car with its license tags about to expire. She runs the engine to keep warm while others shuffle around in silence, dodging any direct eye contact. This is a result of high housing prices, a steep cost of living, and a culture of spending—a hangover from better days.