Money Futures

‘If more of us valued food and cheer above hoarded gold, it would be a much merrier world’ J. R. R. TOLKIEN

I have been studying Permacultural Design on a Leicester-based course in monthly weekend installments moving into early summer. Our lecturer likes to view Permaculture as “not preaching but rather acting as inspiring demonstrations for future necessities”.

I found the topical issue of our current financial and subsequent economic crisis echoed across most of Europe very engrossing and therefore hoped to share/offer some possible alternatives & solutions to the ever-present climate of doom & gloom along with the sense of vulnerability & disengagement that usually follows.

Macy’d in yo face Wall Street Suckaz! Erm, or something

MONEY £$%?

Understanding the history of our current situation

Fear, misunderstanding commonplace – can easily become cynical as media/news coverage overcomplicated & shrouded by business terminology

Alienating to most, other than worry many feel no lasting difference can be made

A (very) brief history/assessment of…

Bartering suffered from lack of mobility with larger traded goods e.g. livestock

Direct exchange also problematic if one trader has surplus

Units of value began as shells, nuts, stones, crops, cocoa beans (Aztec), exotic plants

Limits reached as no single international object as travel/globalisation increased

Money’s 3 uses must be as a; medium of exchange/store of value/transferable sum

Money alone isn’t the problem as it acts as a useful energy medium for progress

1971 U.S. reached finite amount of gold/silver reserves so broke ties with weighed currency e.g. no longer value equivalent – gold standard written as dollar sum

Statement on money ‘I promise to pay the bearer the sum of’ is just an illusion! Promises rather than payment upfront – however if illusion shared by all then not in itself a problem provided everyone complies & acts accordingly (Cough! RBS, etc)

Chris Martenson makes key points; life assumptions already being challenged e.g. that housing bubble won’t burst when in fact returning to 70s pricing

Fractional reserve banking – realisation nobody was withdrawing their reserves for transactions so banks started lending sums of which only a fraction actually existed (very small; less than 10%). Hence run on banks in Netherlands 2 years before…

Northern Rock, UK – collapsed thus bottom dwellers & those last past the post lose their cut as money is ultimate pyramid system affecting those with the least worst

Money will always be chained to debtor’s labour & by extension ever more dwindling natural resources to work off repayment

Thus economic growth outpaces the physical limits of the planet’s resources

As hugely oil-based economy, profit margins become harder to maintain

Bucket/Barrel effect – if there are holes then money will always pour out

How to plug leaks? Thriving market towns with strong business links required e.g. Totnes

Co-ops/LETS/Alternative currencies

Co-ops are managed differently to other supermarkets but supply chain similar

Their shareholders can be public as other businesses such as Funeralcare, Bank

Co-op chose corporate responsibility before it became mandatory for positive PR

Working towards becoming first Transition supermarket in UK through tightly regulating farming food standards e.g. pesticide-free, organic options, fair trade month

Research is driven by ethics rather than economics with fairer supplier deals

Alas Buy 1 Get 1 Free is always paid for by trader rather than supermarket

Greece/Ireland austerity packages severe hence public outrage, riots (BBC Audio)

Resilient local businesses can establish links to retain money

LETS – Local Exchangeable Trading Systems; more stable the larger the chain

Credit Unions popped up in the 80s

Local currencies evermore popular – Totnes in Devon, Lewis in East Sussex, Brixton pound (Transition idea)

Challenge in closed systems is finding good skills set – trolls required for practical service skills like plumbers as well as alt. therapies which are often in plentiful supply

Volos; a port town in Central Greece has mushroomed in interest from bartering using alternative currency TEM & now has over 800 traders with Mayoral approval as 2 currencies can coexist & more stability than Euro system at present. Industry collapsed & unemployment soared but community has since become re-energised. Grassroots initiative supplement now spawning elsewhere around country with fresh opportunities & greater fiscal independence

http://www.bbc.co.uk/news/business-17686384

Some free advice (Put ya money where ya mates are)

Firstly complete an Input/Output analysis by self-budgeting

Eradicate your own debts for strength of community to share assets around

Decide if any businesses you own are better to declare bankruptcy as very small window of opportunity

Monoculture income streams; more vulnerable so spread risk to improve resilience

Create feelings of community ownership & empowerment whether starting small from just an apple press to a wind turbine using local group investment

We must recognise the value of ourselves & the services/products we offer

Consider skills/services & design to suit business share (food/clothes/shelter/self)

Gift/Love economy – amongst friends/family for free when strangers would be charged, 70-80% of economic transactions done as favours under this premise

Useful links/Further reading

New Economics Foundationwww.neweconomics.org

Ann Pettifor – Economics book deals with hard concepts

Peter North’s book Local Money also very useful

Diggers & Dreamers – Embryonic co-housing groups in most areas – http://www.diggersanddreamers.org.uk

Global Eco Village Network (GEM) – http://www.gen.ecovillage.org/about-gen.html

Move your money campaign – http://www.moveyourmoney.org.uk

Triodos, Co-operative Bank & other more ethical choices are out there…

ZOPA debt buying website where lender decides interest rates in fairer scheme – http://uk.zopa.com/

Drop the debt campaign – http://www.dropthedebt.org/ or join the Transition Leicester/Nottingham mailing list

Hope this has been in some way helpful

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