Bank Money vs Sovereign Money: References

I participated in talk  on the overarching and less-understood workings of the monetary system at the US Social Forum in San Jose, California last week called Who’s Money? Our Money!  We’re working on getting a draft of the talking points together into one document, but here is the list of references we draw from in our research (you know, to prove we’re not crazy):
Icelandic Proposal: http://tinyurl.com/pwzwzpo

Positive Money Website: http://positivemoney.org/

Positive Money “Creating a Sovereign Money System.”: http://tinyurl.com/kgkk8rv

Bank of London “Money Creation in the Modern World.”: http://tinyurl.com/nnd7wwq

IMF Working Paper: The Chicago Plan Revisited : http://tinyurl.com/9vuqh3p

Ellen Brown’s “Web of Debt.”: http://tinyurl.com/npsvkr4

Ellen Brown’s The Public Banking Solution : http://tinyurl.com/pj5vdkd

USPS Office of the Inspector General “Providing Non-Bank Financial Services for the Underserved.” : http://tinyurl.com/m6jufyf

USPS OIG “The Road Ahead for Postal Financial Services.”: http://tinyurl.com/l4ujhf4

Elizabeth Warren “Coming to a Post Office Near You: Loans You Can Trust?”: http://tinyurl.com/paslzfn

Bank of North Dakota: http://banknd.nd.gov/

Federal Reserve System: https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/Federal_Reserve_System

Commonomics: http://www.commonomicsusa.org/

Strike Debt Bay Area:
Web: http://strike-debt-bay-area.tumblr.com/
Twitter: @strikedebtba
Facebook: https://www.facebook.com/BayAreaStrikeDebt

Community Check Cashing, Oakland: http://communitycheckcashing.org/

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Thoughts after Reading a Chapter on the Philosophy of Language

We should not use ’belief’ loosely, as if certain statements’s truth value depended entirely on cultural values and all of the emplacing phrases like ’conceptual schemes’ and ’web of beliefs’ for their becoming/being true or false. Something is not *made true by one’s believing it, something else is going on with the word belief. The import of the word ’belief’ comes from religion and the repetitive affirmation technique imbued in people during a particular historical periods and geographical locations. The practice of individualizing affirmation that the subject is made to express in public, private, and in dialogue according to prescribed rituals has as much to do with the meaning of the word ’belief’ as it does with forming subjects who are then led to thinking that they must confirm sentences into truthhood. The subject-object distinction is as much a product of these processes as it is a constant structure of language and sentence creation. The intensifying of religious practices has done nothing to subvert this basic function of meaning creation, it has only made us turn about from one side to the other in hopes that one day we will form a unified theory that is held steady from top to bottom.

The problem is neither with the relativism of subjectivism, as if we could each in our own person determine a meaning of a word and only by ourselves confirm a word’s relation to its non-linguistic object, nor is it the blankness of an objectivism that posits an outside world and fervently seeks to write about it in ever more detail. The problem lies with the word ’world’. As if it were a unified thing, yes, but also as if it were an ’external thing’ to something else, namely, our* personal minds or, to update the word, our experiences. It will remain the unknown noumena and forever beckons us* to discover it as an empty place (space) that we must fill up by going and checking to infinity until we are satisfied (which is never) by observation.

The more empowering thing to do (and not the more realistic or progressive) is to end that quest and proliferate words and concepts that impress upon us by our always expanding experience and the communication thereof. Science has never needed philosophy and philosophy can get along just fine without science, but the collaboration remains open and fruitful provided the logic does not remain in the dead-lock of equalization. Arguments and theories can proliferate at a rate never before seen and persuade more people to adopt their terminology and concepts without being held up to a singular standard. Students would be encouraged to explore all manner of concepts in a great many different procedures, which have never been nor ever could be all-encompassing. Feyerabend’s anarchy.

Metaphysically, (but that name is already so loaded with both a Physicalism that it adds to, comes after more strictly speaking, and a spiritual connotation) the move is from a contained whole that is both singular (the ’all’ and ’one’ in its attributes) with a single division (a split) to a multiplicity that only has attributes and an infinitely many of them (innumerable and infinite in the sense of not having number or discernible size).

Reading analytic philosophy can be helpful after all.

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Fantasy Lives and Fantasie Signs

Our Fantasy Lives:

It is this line starting at 3:05 that makes it worth pondering:
“A fantasy is often the best shape a wish can take.”

The rest of the video is one man’s personal fantasies of success and his ideal picture of himself. The end is a call to loosen-up our ideal images of ourselves and recognize that we all have fantasies. The narrative form of the video is a monologue that takes place inside the only character’s mind – a voice-over.

It is not enough that we acknowledge the fantasies of others or alter our fantasies to meet closer to the realities of *our* lives. The image of success that the character projects onto himself is that of a wealthy tech-businessman, an idea-generating politico, a celebrity, and a body without blemishes. These ideal images are desired not because of an individual’s aberrant thought wanderings but do to the surrounding composition of forces and dominant regimes of desire at work in human habitats. As Deleuze put it, we always desire in assemblages. [Deleuze A to Z]

A fantasy is an especially libidinous or desire-infused image that projects the limit of our thoughts onto a formed image. One never does this as ’one’ but as a body mixed with other bodies in an ever-more dizzying array of affectations and forces pushing and pulling in all manner of directions. Our desires and therefore our fantasies are not our own. “A fantasy is often the best shape a wish can take”, but a wish is also only a shape that desire can take. When individualized/personalized, the word ’fantasy’ draws a negative connotation: “Your dreams had better face up to reality you youthful idealist.” But everyone must admit that everyone else dreams as well (unless you are an actual, philosophical idealist), and we do so in strangely similar fashions… When taken as an adjective, something that is “fantastic” is not just good but extravagantly so.

When de-individualized, fantasy has become an entire genre and even an art style unto itself. Collective fantasies tend to take distinguishable patterns and those images of the past preserved in history as well as those today have no exemption from those patterns.  There is less to separate myths from fantasies than we think.  The demand for belief only obscures this.

A fantasy is a particularly intense form of desire, a desire that has taken form in a coherent image. A fantasy is not simply the opposite of reality – the way things really are.

Fantasie Sign:

Use this translation to follow along with the French lyrics if you do not understand it:

A walk
and the universe is me
After a cascade
It’s water is always you
an escapade
Life is in the woods
And then a ballad
It’s subject is always you
A walk
and the universe is me
After a cascade
It’s water is always you
It’s like the green of the fields and
Like a bird that flies
It’s always you
It’s always me
It’s always the rock of the excited soul
Like a child who sees
The time pass like a funny
It’s always you
It’s always me
On the wings and the songs of great love
It’s like the green of the fields and
Like a bird who flies
It’s always you
It’s always me
Always the rock of the excited soul
In this cybernetic era
Full of computer people
It’s the only fantasy here for always
It’s always me
It’s always you
Like the green of the fields and
like the bird that flies
It’s always you
it’s always me
It’s always the rock of the excited soul
Like the air it’s sweetly sharp
The blue of the sky is clearly apparent
It is the only fantasy here for always
It’s always you
It’s always me
For forever
and more days
and days
and days
It’s always you
and me
and you

*In full honesty, this was the first time I ever checked the translation of the lyrics for this song, while it had already come to be my favorite song in the great soundtrack to Cowboy Bebop without knowing them.

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Fringe Finance – International Debt: Polarities of the Debt-System

I did a brief speech at the latest debtors’ assembly for Strike Debt Bay Area on both Fringe Finance and International Debt. With the time allotted I couldn’t get to nearly as much as I wanted to, so I will reproduce my notes here:

Fringe Finance

The Debt-System effects everyone, even people outside of the traditional banking system. It costs people who don’t have a bank account (the unbanked or underbanked) more money just to use their own money.

People choose not to use banks mainly because they don’t have enough money to meet the minimum balance requirements of banks and have had bad experiences with overdraft charges. They are primarily poor people.

The un- and under-banked people make up about one-quarter of Americans, that’s 25% of all people in America not being served by the banking system. These people must turn to Alternative Financial Services.

Check Cashing Outlets

Check Cashers take out about 4% of your pay check. For someone who uses Check Cashers their entire life, the average amount given over their lifetime is about $40,000.

Check Cashing stores have more than doubled in number this century, and the cost for using them has gone up by about 75% in the period 1996-2006.

Pre-Paid Cards

Pre-Paid Cards have been getting popular, they are used by 13% of people in the US. They also charge you to access your own money, though a but cheaper than check cashers.

Examples of Pre-Paid Cards: GPR Cards and EBT Cards.

GPR (General Purpose Reloadable Cards) have many fees: monthly fees, activation fees, inquiry fees, and more.

EBT (Electronic Benefit Cards) are for funds given by governments to cut down on paper use (and extract fees). They are better for you when from the federal government than the state (like with Food Stamps and Unemployment Benefits). In California, fees and other costs of use are better than other states, but they’ll still hit you with lots of fees.

Welfare recipients paid $17 million plus in fees and ATM surcharges in CA alone in 2012. So fees add up with Pre-Paid Cards.

Pay Day Loans

12 million people took out a Pay Day Loan in 2012 and they’ve been getting more and more mainstream since the 2008 financial crash.

In the early 1990’s, there were less than 200 Pay Day Lenders, now there are 23,000 – that’s more than McDonalds for some perspective.

Pay Day Lenders give you money you need now at very high interest rates. Borrowers often end up paying back the Pay Day Lenders many times more than the original loan.

Most people (69%) take our Pay Day Loans to meet everyday expenses. So it’s not just emergencies that lead to Pay Day Loans, as some people believe.

The Pay Day Lenders’ game plan is to keep you in their Debt-Trap and keep the interest rolling over. They call it “Churning”: they don’t want you to pay do back the loan ASAP (only 2% of borrowers actually do). 75% of Pay Day Loans are for the purpose of this Churning and it nets them $3.5 billion.

Pay Day Loans are unsecured, meaning if you default they can’t repossess anything you own. No Debt Collectors, so don’t be frightened by them. They can contact a Credit Reporting Agency and lower your credit score, but they mostly use this as an empty threat.

There are also Pawn Shops, Auto Title Loans, and Rent-to-Own Stores which are more fringe finance institutions that extract fees, interest, and possessions primarily from poor people.

Solutions to Fring Finance:

Community Check Cashing exists in Fruitvale area if you can travel there conveniently. CCC works on a non-profit model which we are trying to extend in our working group. Join us if you like!

Postal Banking is the big one. It has already worked for over 50 years in the twentieth century very well. Postal Banking could perform just about all of the fringe finance business’ but on a cheaper public model, without the fees and usurious charges. Postal Banking is used in many countries now successfully, it is a kind low-level but far-reaching public bank.

Fringe Finance is perhaps the lowest level of the debt-system. People outside the banking system still get caught up in the debt-trap and are hit especially hard.

At perhaps the highest scale of the debt-system there is International Debt – the opposite extreme where entire countries are put under the control of financiers who weaponized debt.

International Debt

This is how the standard explanation goes: A sovereign country must borrow money and go into debt if it spends too much money and doesn’t collect enough taxes.

But they do this because central banks and other international institutions prevent them from issuing their own currency and controlling its supply, so that these countries cannot control the supply and creation of their own currencies.

Control of the money in a country is in almost every case now controlled by private banks and their willingness to lend.

The Bank of International Settlements (the BIS) in Basel, Switzerland sets the rules of the global financial game for most of the countries on the planet. It was set up in 1929 as a way to shore up the power the international bankers were losing during the beginning of the Great Depression.

But it was right after a World War II that the main standards of the global financial system were set at the Bretton Woods Conference in 1944. This is where the IMF and World Bank were established.

When a country needs money to expand its economy, repay a previous debt, or gain more foreign currency reserves, it must appeal for credit from the IMF or World Bank, or issue bonds (92% of bonds are issued/sold at New York or London).

When countries take out loans from the IMF or World Bank, they must grow their economies mainly by increasing exports. This allows them to match their debt repayment with profits from exporting to consuming nations. If they cannot repay all of the debt from those loans by competing on the global export market, they are caught in the debt-trap.

The IMF and World Bank then impose structural adjustment programs that slash public institutions, public benefits, and public infrastructure. They force countries to privatize public goods like land and industry, because they have to pay the debt instead of their own people.

Privatizing public goods, land, and services gives countries a one-time boost in profit but cancels all further public profit to governments and the free use of the commons.

So, this is all about control, and debt-based finance is perhaps the primary tool for control today besides military intervention.

Any country that tries to break free and play by their own rules can attacked with currency raids and short selling on the foreign exchange market – which devalues an entire worth of a country’s economy.

Nations led by the US can also impose sanctions, saber-rattle, and fund revolutions within the dissenting country to establish sympathetic military rulers (or Juntas).

This is what happened in Chile in the 70’s, Libya a few years ago, what’s happening in Syria and Venezuela now, and what they are trying to do to Iran and Russia. There are many other examples in South and Central America, the Middle East, and Africa.

A good example with a happy ending is Argentina. 70’s – military dictatorship. 80’s – Neoliberal regime that led to a hyperinflation scenario of too much money borrowing. 90’s – massive privatization of natural resources (oil, roads, and banks). The interest in the loans and austerity conditions attached to them meant an uncompetitive, depressed economy.

So, in 1995, there was a run on the banks and massive capital flight out of the country – a major depression.

Now for the good part: without any kind of decent banking system, people turned toward alternative currencies (local communities made-up their own money).

Propel conducted massive, sustained protests that delegitimized the entire Argentinian government and made them fear for total loss of control. “Que se Vayan Todos” – “They can all go (to hell)” was their main slogan.

This pressure from below forced the Argentinian government to default on its International Debts. By re-nationalizing it’s once privatized industries, doubling social spending, and public investment, Argentina’s economy grew rapidly in the 2000’s. They went from negative growth to over 8% per year growth.

Recap on Argentina: by walking away from its debts, brought on by massive popular protest, and a re-nationalization of privatized goods, services, and land, Argentina saw major economic revival.

They were able to restructure their debt to far less than the original amount and paid off their IMF debt altogether. They did this by *issuing their own currency under their own control* and boosting public investment.

In the 2000’s, Argentina saw poverty drop from over 50% to under 15%.

Vulture funds bought some debt and refused to renegotiate it down, and there is an ongoing court battle over these culture funds right to collect the entirety of the debt that they bought from someone else.

Solutions:

The big one is Sovereign Money: to allow treasuries to print their own national currencies without borrowing it first from Private Central Banks or issuing bonds. The Central Banks would be public and under public control vs. for-profit private banks.

It happened in America during the civil war when Lincoln printed Greenbacks, which are the original design for the dollars we use today. Now, however, they are federal reserve notes, not treasury notes).

Canada is under a court battle for this right now and Iceland gained this after their revolution…

And Finally, Public Banks

Public Banks put money earned from interest on loans (profit) into the accounts of city and state governments instead of private banks because it would be a municipal, state, or regional bank.

They would partner with local banks and credit unions not compete with them.

Luckily we have one already in the State of North Dakota. The Great Recession and bank failure of 2008 had no effect on their economy whatsoever.

Most all major successful economies around the world today have a strong public banking sector: China, India, Brazil, Russia, and Germany (plus more).

Wrap up:

The debt-system effects us all from big to small, from those outside of the banking system to entire countries, Fringe a Finance to International Debt. There are alternative models and solutions at each step, but we need major public pressure to recapture public goods, services, and land before these solutions can be put in place – like in Argentina.

The sources for this speech were The Debt Resistors’ Operations Manual [link], The Public Bank Solution by Ellen Brown [link], and The Democracy Project by David Graeber (for the bit about Argentina’s massive public protests of delegitimization)

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Not just Geography, but Money also

The Geopolitics of the US’ Global Decline: Washington vs. China in the 21st Century

Summary: “Geography determines destiny” without exception  – unless stupidity creeps into the decision-makers.

In all seriousness though, what this good read fails to mention is the strategic need for the US’ apparent stupidity: ensuring the continued demand for dollars around the world.  The need for other countries to borrow dollars to buy oil (the “petrodollar recycling system“) and protect their foreign reserve accounts from speculative raids has allowed the US to go into astronomical amounts of debt and not have to pay it off.  The US doubled-down on its status as the purported “leader of the free world” in the mid-seventies and their is no going back now that they have run up an amount of debt that could never and will never be payed back.

The irony of the situation is that the US uses debt as its primary way to control other nations aside from military force but does not feel obliged to pay its own.  The tragedy of the situation is that the transition away from this system is what will determine a large portion of the how world nations are made up in the coming century (as well as the fate of earth’s biosphere for the next 100,000 years), yet very few people understand it in a country that claims for itself the label ‘democracy’.

Most important for determining destiny is not just geography but the systemic movement of oil and money (be it in cash form or bits in electrical computer networks) on top of the earth.  Oil comes from underneath the earth though and nations have their borders to look after, which are determined by oceans, mountains and other geographical barriers, (together of course with competing militaries and unruly subjects).  Geopolitics brings international politics to mind and the ‘flows’ of oil and money that course through nations borders deserve to be included.

Someone or some body of people will have to persuade the US to not to unleash its war machine on other nations when the petrodollar system collapses, so that oil can be decoupled from money and renewable forms of energy (including less of it) can abound.  Nations will not be able to transition away from fossil fuels when they cannot control their own money supply and have a imperial behemoth breathing down their neck.  The chief barrier to the protection of a threatened biosphere is United States global hegemony.  Perhaps an internal war machine to the US’ borders will apply the necessary pressure to ease the transition, or perhaps it will come from without.  Then again, perhaps it will continue, but as far as I can tell, if the US prevails, you can kiss much of the life on this planet goodbye.

More on geopolitics from Michael Hudson:

Russia, China, and the Battle Against Dollar Hegemony

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Schizoanalysis as Anthro-Ecology

billrosethorn:

Another must read from Edmund Berger. A quick outline:

From Guattari’s (and Deleuze’s) Ecosophy – to Cybernetics – to anarchic war machines – to animism and aboriginal cosmology.

Originally posted on synthetic zero:

WILD ECOLOGIES - Featured Post #3: Edmund Berger with an in-depth 
analysis of Guattari's 'ecosophy' and possible points of connection, 
overlap and divergence from anarchist thought.  

BillStereoLoop

How does one begin to broach the question of linkage, passage, and reflexivity to be found in the theories and practices of anarchism, the radical post-psychoanalysis of Felix Guattari, and the ontological framework that has been ushered in the necessity of acknowledging the forces that we label “the Anthropocene”? The overlaps between each are undeniable: in was ecological concerns that late in his life Guattari turned his mind to; the field that his work is commonly situated – the school of post-structuralism – is often affiliated with anarchism of the so-called “post-left” variety. That Guattari was closely aligned with the Italian Autonomia, which the post-left anarchists owe much of their discourse to, is no passing coincidence. We can also note the presence of “green anarchism”…

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Taksim Commune: Gezi Park And The Uprising In Turkey

Originally posted on synthetic zero:

from brandon jourdan

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