Friday, October 24, 2008
"Our conventional money is..created by a global hierarchy where developing countries don't have a chance at influencing the rules; it is enforced at the national level through a hierarchy under the authority of a Central Bank; a money whose interest feature encourages accumulation and concentration of wealth..But money and monetary systems are not God-given realities, like air or water, but rather are an agreement within a community to use something as a medium of exchange. As such like social contracts or business arrangements, they are subject to review and amendment."
Bernard Lietaer, A World In Balance
"Given that the world has never been more interconnected, it is essential that we work together because we're in this crisis together."
"And therein lies the central truth of globalization today: We're all connected and nobody is in charge."
Thomas L. Friedman, The Great Iceland Meltdown, NYT, 10/19/08
"Together, we should show the way towards an international response. We need a new global financial order."
Jose Manuel Barroso, President, European Commission, 10/18/08
"Most of our valuable assets are not on the books. We need to reinvent economics. The financial crisis is an opportunity,"
Robert Costanza, professor of ecological economics, University of Vermont
The world financial system is in crisis. The flow of the world's currency is stalled. We need a starter button to get the current flowing. And that starter button is world money. We need a world currency in sync with the reality that we are now living in a Global Village.
The purpose of this blog is to initiate a world currency that is at the same time local and global-that will meet the economic demands of each and every local community as well as the total world community.
One of the major factors causing the current world economic system to be so dysfunctional is the mishmash of monetary systems, with 200+ national currencies unattached to real wealth, "floating" in a lawless void above real people.
What is the dominant failure of the national monetary system?
"..official money is kept purposely scarce in the mistaken belief that scarcity is what gives money value", wrote Thomas H. Greco, Jr. in his provocative and enlightening book, Money, Understanding and Creating Alternatives to Legal Tender.* "As a result," he continues, "the official monetary system does not provide an adequate supply of money to allow for a fair distribution of the products of the economy or even to provide everyone with a subsistence level of income. Monetary scarcity also makes it possible for money to be 'lent' at high rates of interest and enables those who control its creation to determine the course of the economy and the financial fate of the people. The tragic result is that important work remains undone and human needs often go unmet because of the lack of money."
The seeds of a solution are already in place, Greco says, in the various currency and mutual credit systems that have been created by local communities. At some point, he suggests, such systems could be networked together into "a web extending over a wide geographic area and including a very large population. It could conceivably be a global network, embracing virtual communities whose members are scattered around the globe."
Such an evolution of a global social currency is essential, for while trade has grown truly global, the very basis of trade itself is split up into 200+ itsy-bitsy engraved colored printed paper arbitrarily called "money."
"There is no textbook on world economics, though economics as a science-if it is really a science-should necessarily be most directly concerned with the happiness of humanity as a whole. Instead, economists visualize a world consisting of differently-colored patches of territory from within which each man is thinking hard economically so as to defeat his neighbor."
Nataraja Guru, Values Magazine, Vol 4, No. 2, Gurukula Press, Varkala, India
Let's apply our own world citizen imagination to the problem of world trade. First, we start with the world public itself as a unit, a whole. It's called "humanity."
Humanity first claimed its rights and identity as a whole in 1948 when the United Nations, responding to worldwide citizen demands, proclaimed unanimously the Universal Declaration of Human Right (UDHR). Article 1 declared:
"All human beings are born free and equal in dignity and rights. They are endowed with reason and conscience and should act towards one another in a spirit of brotherhood." ("..and sisterhood" of course).
Now, skipping to article 25 (though I enjoin you to read ALL the others,) we learn that "Everyone has the right to a standard of living adequate to the health and well-being of himself and of his family, including food, clothing, housing and medical care and necessary social services, and the right to security in the event of unemployment, sickness, disability. widowhood, old age or other lack of livelihood in circumstances beyond his control."
Sounds great! But are governments going to hand us these rights on a silver platter? Are they going to create a world economic system that actually fulfills the rights promised? Or is it our responsibility, as citizens of this world, to implement the UDHR and claim our rights?
Art. 21(3), like the American Declaration of Independence, declares that the people have the authority to design government to our own choosing, "The will of the people shall be the basis of the authority of government.." It goes on to provide that "every individual and every organ of society" shall take "progressive measures, national and international, to secure the universal and effective recognition and observance" of these rights.
If we accept these principles, then isn't it our human right and our duty to institute new global financial systems that will indeed provide us with an adequate standard of living and provide the opportunity for the pursuit of happiness? If money is a notion humans created, then don't we-the-people have the right to create our own currency?
People have created complementary currencies for the exchange of labor and barter of goods at a local level in coops and communities. Can we now take it to the global level? And if we do, will it have purchasing power?
"The power of money lies in the fact that it is readily acceptable in the market in exchange for whatever one may need or want," explains Tom Greco, Jr.
So far, so good. But what is behind it? What makes it "readily acceptable"?
"When trust is present, money flows smoothly from lenders and borrowers, allowing new enterprises to start, existing ones to expand, and daily business to move along without a hitch. When it's absent, we find ourselves in a world where lenders hoard capital, borrowers are left empty-handed, and the economy's gears grind to a halt-a world, in other words, like the one we're now living in." (The Financial Page, The New Yorker, Oct. 20, 2008).
Originally, in order to create trust in money, it was based on something of value like gold. But the world economy evolved way beyond the limiting factor of the supply of gold. What could we base money upon that is sufficiently abundant to fuel a prosperous world economy?
Bucky Fuller in Critical Path identified money as mere "crystallized energy." What exactly did he mean? Using simple deduction, he was claiming that energy itself is a universal "currency"readily available to one and all in ever-renewable quantity. So why not base "money" on renewable energy? he asked. Not upon limited oil or coal or nuclear but on solar, the greatest and closest energy unit readily available without which we humans wouldn't exist. Doesn't it "arrive" every morning? Talk about "trust"! It's built-in to our very existence. There are others as we all know by now: hydro-electric, wind, (due to solar power), biomass, etc. Even the planet's inner heat, not to mention conservation.
If we think of currency as a current energizing the flow of goods and services in our world, then, what would be the most logical, self-evident, world monetary energy unit? Kilowatts! Indeed, that's what Bucky himself suggested in his book Critical Path in the chapter on the World Game.
But his fertile and practical imagination went further. He created a strange-looking map of the world which revealed that the five major continents were joined except for 30 miles at the Bering straits. He called it the Dymaxion Map. "Link up all the electric grids, the 'railroad tracks' of energy, " he advised, "and, after using the sun to generate it you could transmit via direct current the kilowatts instantaneously (electricity travels at the speed of light) throughout the world and make everyone energy billionaires!"
(And, incidentally, also protect the environment! And the planet;
And eliminate war;
And reduce the population! [Population goes down as standards of living go up];
And reduce crime..
And general misery).
Well! Why not?
Because our political thinking is still stuck in the 18th and 19th century national frontier world, that's why not.
The sun, however, doesn't recognize national frontiers.
We world citizens, in order to properly issue and use the new currency based on solar energy, will create a "bank," a world energy bank** to issue " kilowatt money" or "Mondos."
And since kilowatts are both local and global units of value, the Mondo will be at once both a local and global currency.
In addition to being pegged to renewable energy, an even more overarching requirement is for money to reflect the value of nature itself.
"I believe the 21st century," Achim Steiner, head of the U.N. Environment Program told Reuters at the International Union for Conservation of Nature in Barcelona, "will be dominated by the concept of natural capital, just as the 20th was dominated by financial capital."
Professor Robert Costanza of the University of Vermont, estimated a decade ago that the value of the services provided to us by nature amounts to $33 trillion a year. His estimate, widely quoted, helped open the debate of money's "other dimension."
"To establiah an equitable, efficient, and ecologically sustainable society," wrote renowned economist Dr. Shann Turnbull, World Citizen News, VIII, June/JUly, 1994, "we need money with the same characteristics. To achieve this objective we need to reinvent the nature of money in accordance with ecological principles."
"You never change things by fighting the existing reality" wrote Buckminster Fuller. "To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete."
In order to give the currency immediate global/local trust, we would initially relate it to a monetary "value" the world public already recognizes and respects in our present time period. The principle here is known as the "double negative," or an application of the science of geo-dialectics. (see www.worldservice.org/memor.html) (A current example is the issuance of a World Passport by our government based on the human right of freedom of travel. Obviously, if travel were free throughout the planet, there would be no need of passports. At present, however, with national frontiers crisscrossing the planetary territory, the World Passport serves to "neutralize" while apparently conforming to, that artificial, manmade system.)
With regard to paper money, in a world of mutual abundance, (forecast by Fuller predicated on design-science) it would eventually become a useless artifact of historical significance only valuable to collectors. (A few "Star Trek" episodes have depicted time travelers who were surprised-after defrosting-to discover that there was no more money on Earth in the 24th century!)
In order to immediately establish the intrinsic value of trust, the exchange rate at the outset would be set to 1 Mondo = 2 Swiss francs. (or equivalent in any negotiable national currency.)
As incoming national currency is exchanged for Mondos, it will be immediately established, both conceptually (solar and/or natural trust) and perceptually as the Mondo can always be reexchanged for national currencies if so desired. However, given its universality, the Mondo will evolve into being recognized as both more practical in actual use as a medium of exchange for goods and services whether local or global. Being both universal and local, there would be no exchange charge in its use.
We also envision it as a "world peace currency" that, like other trade and barter systems, would be outside the current national monetary systems and thus not taxed for war purposes. In that way it becomes per se a true world citizen currency.
World Citizens will be advised to use the new world currency between themselves as an appropriate medium of exchange for whatever goods and services they may provide each other. As the bank's currency will be backed by the initial capitalization, it will have immediate exchange value. Thus incoming national currency will be exchangeable for "kilowatt dollars."
The present "capital" in "world money" (Kilowatt dollars) of the World Government of World Citizens, as mentioned in my last blog, is a scant $K5,000 minus the bills distributed freely at the Earth Summit, i.e. $K1,000. In order to raise the initial capital for our "Mondo Mutual Bank", we will thus offer 4,000 of the original kilowatt dollars (signed by yours truly, laminated and officially sealed with "Mondo Mutual Bank"), for $100 per bill which will constitute a "share" in the new "bank." (Maximum 10 to a person.) (There is admittedly an aspect of philanthropy as well as endowment in this offer given its historical significance.) Thus our initial capitalization will be, in principle, $40,000 (a modest beginning) for the issuance of the new "Mondos" or "kilowatt dollars". (As national currency is subsequently exchanged for the Mondo, bearers of the original Kilowatt dollars will eventually be able to renegotiate them for national currencies if they so desire.)
The Mondo bills will be printed in English, French, Spanish, Russian, Arabic, Chinese and Esperanto with holographic enhancement. The logo will be the world wherein a human figure touches the circumference. The background will be the starry heavens. An intricate computerized design will constitute the first eighth part of each bill. Other features will insure its unconterfeitability. (The Dutch company Joh Enschede, in the Netherlands, was approached several years ago to be the printer of our world bills. After much detailed discussion, we received its agreement eventually duly authorized by the Netherland's government.)
"Imagination," wrote Einstein, "is more important than intelligence." Everything created on earth had to first be imagined by the human mind. With today's headlines dealing in unimaginable numbers, i.e. "trillions," our proposal herein seem ridiculously insignificant in comparison. But, with full confidence, we must "walk the talk" boldly yet humbly with Bucky's words inspiring us onward:
"Essence of the world's working will be to make every man able to become a world citizen and able to enjoy the whole earth, going wherever he wants at any time, able to take care of all the needs of all his forward days without any interference with any other man and never at the cost of another man's equal freedom and advantage."
*Publisher: Chelsea Green Publishing Co., White River Junction, VT, (2001)
**Its "locale" will, at the outset, be allied with the World Service Authority's account in the Bank of America and titled "World Government Treasury Account."
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