Saturday, 21 January 2012

Firing Back - The case against money, and the case for a resource-based economic system

Video of a talk given by Ben McLeish of the UK part of The Zeitgeist Movement. Unfortunately it can be a little difficult to hear some of what he says - the audio seems to have been captured somewhere in the auditorium rather than from the microphone Ben was speaking into, but it is still well worth listening to. As usual, Ben has new insights and new examples to refresh what for TZMers is now fairly familiar material. One example, albeit of a rather workaday matter, was the fact that individuals don't own their own shopping trolleys (shopping carts). They use one provided in/by the supermarket whilst they need it, and then pool it for others to use. There is a gradual move to towards this access or service model and away from the ownership model in which we retain a physical thing for our exclusive use, the most obvious example being the private car. Technology helps it become more and more possible to access what we need when we need it without outright ownership.

[I also saw separately  a montage of contributions by Jacque Fresco and George Carlin. In Jacque's 1974 Larry King interview, he observes how telephones were built to last so that the phone company didn't need to maintain or replace them too often. This was beneficial to the subscriber (as we used to call them) too - they don't want the phone to break. ]

I will try to get a link to the presentation material that Ben was talking to.

The explanation of fractional reserve banking isn't the clearest one I've come across, but the fact that money is created by banks out of thin air as debt is real, and doesn't need to be understood in detail to be shocking.

The Economic Calculation Problem

I like this short article, with plenty of links,  which counters criticisms of an RBE made from the perspective of the economic calculation problem (which basically says that money is the only way of adding up the attributes of goods and services). The end of article summing up says:

"technology is what makes society work better, not money. Money is a technology, but its obsolescence, whether planned or not, happened a long time ago, and [yet] still we continue to use this destructive tool. We have a better way to obtain decisions now, it's called the scientific method"

Thursday, 5 January 2012


As many will know, Dickens' character Mr Micawber has a maxim about his income being greater than his expenditure. This is of course impossible at a global level where the only thing that is possible overall is that income equals expenditure.

For the vast majority of people, expenditure is greater than income, because money is created as debt. Many people of course have to sell their labour for money to pay back this debt.

The constant struggle to minimise outlay and maximise income that most people face is so destructive, even of the better off who fare well compared to those who face starvation day by day.

In an RBE the emphasis would be on maximum efficiency, not taking resources off each other. If an RBE doesn't work there's nothing to stop us reverting to our current system, so it's difficult to accept the assertion that it won't work. Those that believe it won't work ought perhaps be willing for this to be shown experimentally.

Man made climate change

Someone handed me an article that (I think) debunks the idea that what humanity is doing to the planet is contributing to rising sea levels. The writer seems eminent, if his credentials are anything to go by. The person who gave me the article opined that man made cliamte change is a myth being deployed to control us and others contributed that it's about making money.

All the while there is money, how will we ever be able to tell whether people genuinely believe what they're saying?

As to whether they're correct, well if they are then we need to do something and if we don't do something we're doomed. If they're wrong we're doomed anyway, so we losing nothing significant by trying.

Broadenng this out, the sooner we use up the planet's resources, the sooner we're extinct as a species. That's very simple and undeniable. As we see waste in various forms all around us, we know that we're nowhere near being as economical as possible with our finite resources.

An RBE woould focus on the economical use of resources for human health and well being. There woukd be no incentive to make money, so even if the science was not unanimous, we would know it was not biased by the need to make money, whether by doing the science or writing about it.