• Saturday, April 07th, 2012

These are fascinating ideas that have a chance to work if we can step out of daily reality and look objectively at what our current monetary system is doing to our planet, and ourselves.

We must never forget that money is only a tool – it is neither evil nor good. It is what we choose to do with it.

I propose we start to consider new ways to use money so that it benefits all people (not just a few bankers and their friends who control money creation), and acts to protect what is sacred in our lives – people, clean air, clean water and nutritious food.

Source: Pittsburgh City Paper

Money, or at least the desire for it, is at the root of our biggest problems, from injustice and economic inequality to environmental destruction. The need for money always seems to make us do the wrong thing: Hoard wealth, strip the land.

But it needn’t be so. In his 2011 book Sacred Economics author and speaker Charles Eisenstein proposes fresh, even radical ways to think about how money is created, and even what it’s for.

Money as we know it is created through interest-bearing debt. It’s born when a central bank, like the Federal Reserve, purchases securities, or when your neighborhood bank makes a loan. The issuers of money demand to be paid back, with interest…

…By contrast, Eisenstein argues, the proper purpose of money is simply to connect people who need something with people who have something to give — “to facilitate the flow of gifts.” 

But how? Eisenstein argues for creating money differently. 

Rather than fabricating it from interest, or basing it arbitrarily on, say, piles of gold, “My idea is that we create money out of what’s becoming sacred to humanity today,” he says in a phone interview. “Intact ecosytems, rainforests, the beauty of the planet. The integrity of indigenous cultures. The health of the watershed. The sustainability of the aquifers, and the well-being of all human beings on earth.”

Eisenstein proposes setting up bioregional governments that would issue money based on things like the ability of the atmosphere to absorb air pollution, or the amount of water that can be sustainably drawn from a region’s aquifer.

“Today, there’s really not much of an incentive to conserve water,” he says. “But if aquifer depletion became very expensive, then conservation would have a financial incentive, and you’d be aligning money with what is sacred.”

Eisenstein also proposes that we reform the money system by making interest rates negative. In other words, the longer you held money, the less it would be worth: It would “decay.” And an interest rate of, say, negative-3 percent would encourage people to spend money and to loan it out (even at a low, or a 0 percent, return). That would spur economic activity. And it would help redefine wealth as a flow of resources, rather than an accumulation. (Negative interest differs from inflation, he says, largely because it would affect everyone equally — unlike inflation, which tends to raise prices and wages at different rates.)

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2 Responses

  1. Mark Berger, This Monday 7th May, 14 – 15h30 (2 – 3:30 pm), Indigene Community and a number of faculties (Engineering, Environment, First Peoples etc) at McGill are holding a conference on developing formal inter-disciplinary dialogues, ‘debates’ (French ‘de’ = ‘undo’ + ‘bate’ = ‘the fight’) around the Quebec Plan Nord but more permanently over all social-economic issues at McGill First Peoples House, 3505 Peel south of Dr. Penfield, north of Sherbrooke West. It would be great to connect with Permaculture and Sustainability through people in your group. 514-365-9594

  2. Sacred Economics will do well to learn from humanity’s worldwide ‘indigenous’ (Latin = ‘self-generating’) ancestors. Money is a fragment in our ‘exogenous’ (L = ‘other-generated’) colonial imperial world of a once integrated system of community ‘values’. The string-shell was used in various forms by Production Societies and Multihome communities (Longhouse are like apartment blocks and Pueblo are like townhouse complexes) on every continent and ocean. Indigenous peoples integrated accounting, decision-making, compensation, security, education, progressive ownership and affiliation through String-shell mediated: ‘capital’ (L ‘cap’ = ‘head’ meaning ‘wisdom’), ‘currency’ (‘flow’), ‘condolence’ (‘social-security’), diplomatic-conveyance (shared resource harvesting), collegial-education (apprenticeship / mentors / progressive ownership), costume (affiliation) and other values. All of the values we hold dear today are necessary but must be seen as part of a whole system of Economic Democracy. Everyone’s mind has a role to play.

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