Tao of Money


An Exchange With a Friend…

From:       wor@slac.stanford.edu
Subject:     Re: Interesting Reading
Date:     December 4, 2007 7:30:37 PM EST
To:       chris@smallisbeautiful.org

Hey Chris,

Feel free to post it on your blog.

Give an extreme lack of data regarding the future, I totally agree with your synopsis.

I think it’s safe to say – We’re pretty sure we’re going to see some significant changes – in the coming decade, but not too sure how bad its going to be.
I can supply some current references.

I believe that given an infinite amount of time, education and the creation of incentive systems, would be enough to change our culture into a more equal and just one.

“Why settle for anything less?”
So essentially its a risk analysis problem – that is really hard to asses.
Firstly – If we actually saw a tornado coming at us it may not be a good time to be working on family dynamics. Not enough data?
Secondly what other options do we personally have? I assume the rich elite have their vast think-tanks with smart people thinking of all these scenarios. . . . data?

I don’t actually think we’re dealing with a black and white Mt. Doom situation here – i.e. As far as our goal is seeing the evolution of diverse, complex, abundant, collectively intelligent life. I don’t actually think the world’s elite want to see any species wiped off the planet. . . ?
I see Humanity as immature and the elite that would and do take advantage of the poor as an emergent phenomena. But a world run by those people still has the possibility of learning, changing, and promoting complex diverse life.

Are we willing to change strategies based on new information?
Lets say we have a decade before economic collapse and massive crop failure. Lets say Lovelock is right and 6 billion will die.
Or what if it will be very gradual … 100 years before seeing change ….etc.

I totally believe in educational and economic solutions toward the world problems – but the doomsday scenario throws a monkey wrench in things. But in the end I personally don’t have another choice right now – other than to put one foot in front of the other and deal with the information I have and look for more.

Best,

-Will

Chris Lindstrom wrote:
Hey Will,

My answer is that there really is no definitive answer out there.  We have to choose which one we are going to fight for.  We may be wrong but thats better than settling on the doomsday scenario, supporting the benevolent elite, and then finding that the doomsday scenario was not as bad as we thought it would be but in the process the benevolent elite morphed into the malevolent elite who have decided to recreate the system (just like frodo’s hesitation to destroy the ring at mt. doom).  I think that in reality, we must fight for the possibility of a ‘synergic,’ as Bucky would call it, future.  That’s the win win future.  I think that when and if human beings realize collective, synergetic consciousness, we will be able feed 6 billion people, create a more egalitarian society, and help heal the environment at the same time.  Why settle for anything less?  An elite society that survives the apocalypse at the expense of the poor and the disenfranchised does not deserve to inherit the earth.  That’s my view.
-Chris

On Dec 4, 2007, at 4:07 PM, Will Ruddick wrote:

Hey Chris,

I’ve got no factual information on this – but it was an interesting read.
http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7529 <http://www.globalresearch.ca/index.php?context=va&aid=7529&gt;

I can imagine many many scenarios where a seed vault would be a great idea … I hadn’t thought about what it might mean for corporations trying to profit off GMO foods.

The elitist argument for the future might go something like this – Listening to scientists at NCAR and NOAA in Boulder, we are extremely likely to see massive worldwide drought in  the next eight years. From the economic perspective – this would be also be coupled with failing markets. Perhaps Lovelock is right and we will see 6 billion dead in the next century….. … So those with the most resources should be planning for that future. In the face of impending disaster – redistributing wealth accrossed the billions of people on the planet right now would actually reduce our long term survivability.

I know someone doing a ton of work on making efficient solar greenhouses (hi is trying to build a giant one in downtown in Chicago) I see this along with GMO foods as the technostate solution (small high technology bubbles were Human’s can still live in large groups).

Lets say the 8 year time line is true….
Where does this place the alternative currency movement? At worst it could preemptively take away money from the benevolent elite that are attempting massive conservation efforts.
….. At best it takes money away from the control of the malevolent elite that are focused only on short term profits, ‘creates massive synergy and collective intelligence’, eases the transition.

As usual I don’t have enough information to make a logical decision. . and hence just have to just pick the best direction I can. It’s obvious our debt based currency system is un-sustainable … but it is the relevant lever, given some amount of urgency?

Best,

-Will


Amma Reaches out to Farmers Killed by Debt

Project for Ending Farmer Suicide
Quoted from Amma’s website: www.amma.org

“Tens of thousands of beneficiaries have been recently added. Please read on for more details.

Due to economic pressures leading to irresolvable debt associated with continually failing crops, many farmers have been committing suicide by drinking the very pesticides that no longer work on their crops. Especially in South India, with the growing rise of climate changes and other factors, crop failure has become more and more common causing suicide to spread like an epidemic amongst the suffering farmers. For example, in 2006 in the Vidarbha region of Maharashtra alone, there were 1,044 reported suicides – one every eight hours.

In the spring of this year, after discussions on the issue with Maharashtra Chief Minister Vilasrao Deshmukh, Amma found herself pledging 43 million dollars to address this problem. She admitted later the large dollar amount she had pledged surprised her but in the moment she had felt drawn to offering at least that much to help the situation. As part of the pledge, Amma offered that the MA Math would launch a massive project to provide aid and hope for the future for these struggling farmers.

“The problem cannot be solved through economic packages alone,” Amma told the Maharashtra CM. “What is needed is social and spiritual interventions so that the farmers realize that suicide is not the way out. In fact, it only further aggravates the problem for the families. Feeling immense compassion for their suffering due to their unfortunate circumstances, Amma felt counseling and education could really help them get through to the other side. .Yet another generation should not become slaves of emotional weakness like suicide,” Amma said. “Rather than that, they should understand that they need to develop self confidence. The future generation should have the mental strength to face life’s challenges.”

On 27 September 2007, the Ashram inaugurated two programs responding to this dire situation: Vidyamritam and Amrita SREE. These projects focus aid on the places with highest farmer-suicide rates – Maharashtra, Kerala, Karnataka and Andhra Pradesh. These two initial relief projects are aimed at lessening the financial strain placed upon such agricultural families.

Vidyamritam – Educational Scholarships

Through Vidyamritam, the Ashram is providing full scholarships for free education to 100,000 children (ages 10 to 15) of farmers living below the poverty line. Many of the beneficiaries are in fact children who have lost one or both parents to suicide. The children receive a monthly stipend until they finish their education, subject to their performance in their studies.

Since the announcement of the project, thousands of applications have been received and they continue to pour in daily. Because of the huge response, the number of beneficiaries continues to grow.

As an extension of this project, the MA Math is conducting awareness programs to inculcate life skills for personality development.

A newsletter containing articles, stories and discussion forums to further facilitate the intellectual and mental growth is also being received by all the children. Furthermore, special advanced-education camps and symposiums on environmental preservation are being conducted.

Amrita SREE (Self-Reliance Education & Employment)

Through Amrita SREE, the Ashram is providing free vocational training to 5,000 different groups of women from impoverished agricultural families. Though many of these women have now incurred their husband’s debt due to suicide, the MA math has been supporting them in building their own businesses through vocational training in various fields, including tailoring, making snacks for small-scale industries, electrical repair, and making paper products. After completion of their training, the women are given the necessary start-up capital to begin small, home-based businesses.

The use of pesticides and its effect on the life of farmers:

Currently many non-organic, commercial foods are genetically modified. Genetically modified organisms (GMO) present a profound danger to humans as well as the ecosystem. Many species of animals, such as the monarch butterflies are becoming extinct due to the GMOs. For vegetarians, GMOs pose another problem, as they are frequently spliced from animal DNA. It is hypothesized by many experts that the GMO food will eventually even alter human DNA. As GMOs are a recent creation their long term effects are unknown.

In India and other developing nations, western based GMO / pesticide companies are aggressively promoting extremely heavy use of chemicals for farming. This is leading to serious depletion of soil and contamination of the water. Many insects are developing stronger resistance to pesticides and sometimes even huge amounts of chemical are ineffective. For this reason many farmers have little or no yield, year after year. Having gone deeply in debt to these chemical companies, the farmers begin to feel hopeless. Unfortunately, large numbers of Indian farmers are committing suicide by drinking their pesticides. Amma has expressed concern about this issue, and is working to help the farmers and their families. When we choose organic, non-GMO foods, we can also do our part to end this tragic situation.”


Liberty Dollar raided by feds

The word on the street is that two days ago the Liberty Dollar headquarters was raided by the FBI and Secret Service. http://www.washingtonpost.com/wp-dyn/content/article/2007/11/16/AR2007111602267.html The liberty Dollar is one of the most successful (up until now) “alternative” currencies out there. One thing is for sure, Bernard von NautHous is trooper. He has a relentless committed to the cause of reestablishing Gold and Silver as money. This is a distinctly libertarian pursuit. It is rooted in a strange conviction that we must return to the wisdom of our for fathers to restore justice in our country. Although, reading through some of their literature they make some sense. But the idea of returning to Gold and Silver, in my view, is shockingly naive. Curseth be the man that maketh any graven or molten image, an abomination unto the Lord, the work of the hands of the crafstman, and putteth it in a secret place. (Deut. 27:15) Gold and silver money is that abomination of which the scripture speaks. In the Bible we hear of the Golden Calf and the perils that should come to Israel if they worship this “false idol” The Golden Calf is a direct reference to money (both cattle and gold were commons forms of money) but specifically money that was controlled by the priesthood and kept scarce relative to the needs of the people allowing them to lend it out at high interest rates. This gave the priest an immense amount of power which they often abused. In fact the history of all empires arose from this tradition. So those who advocate any kind of limited physical token as money miss the point. They don’t see that the true measure of value is in the heart of each individual–that real value can really only be measured subjectively and is fundamentally abstract. After all, money is nothing but a transaction that involves a credit and a debit, a promise and a debt which is bound by the “good faith” of each party. Yes, we can try to form a “sound” measure of value, but it will never replace the faith nor the integrity of the members of society. When Gold and silver became money people came to objectify value. The value, and thus relationships, became embodied in the thing, not in each human being. People began to mortgage each other and the land for debt. Because money lenders were more concerned with getting their money back than they were with the well-being of those that they lent to, they would possess the property, and in those days, the people themselves (as debt servants) if the debtor was not able to repay the loan. Usury was considered such a serious crime because it eroded the social fabric of society by disenfranchising the main producers, the farmers and agriculturist, while stirring ill feelings and distrust within the tribe or city. This was the basis for the laws against worshipping money (usury) and the Jubilee, the ancient tradition of releasing all slaves, debts and mortgaged land. Please read Michael Hudson’s paper, “The Lost Tradition of Biblical Debt Cancellations.” michael-hudson…Hudson,LostTradition.pdf


Someone took my book title!!

Ah, shux! On whim, I decided to search my blog (and future book) title up on Google and was totally shocked that someone by the name of Walter Lubeck has already written my book “The Tao of Money!” I can’t believe it! Well that save’s me alot of work then! The full title of the book is “The Tao of Money: The Spiritual Approach to Money, Occupation and Possessions as a Means of Personal and Social Transformation.” Well, knock me out with a feather, Walt, you really couldn’t have ripped off my idea more!  Yeah, so its not the most original title in the world. But it reflects oh so well what I was hoping to communicate. Oh, whoops, it says its copyrighted material. Shoot, does that mean I have to change the title of my blog? Hmmm…”The Yoga of Money;” “The Tao of Currency?” Any ideas folks?In the first few pages of his book he covers some of what I envisioned my book to be about, but only half of it. For the most part he sticks to the self-help and philosophical side of the coin. He doesn’t go into the historical or structural part of it so much.  Maybe I can write a book called “The Tao of Money: the better, upgraded, and better-written version to Walter Lubeck’s book.” Walter, no offense, but your time as the holder of “the Tao of Money” title is over! Stay tuned for more on my responses to my book by another author. (-:If you want to browse the book it can be viewed at http://www.amazon.com/gp/reader/0914955624/ref=sib_dp_pt/104-9321892-1039949#reader-link Ok, after a second look there is one other book with this title.  So this is totally cliche title.  I’ll find a better one. 


Timebanking Conference in Madison, WI

Time Dollars (www.timedollar.org) or “Timebanking” as it is now called has been an interest of mine since I first became involved in community currencies at the end of 2002. I remember visiting my cousin in Providence and telling him about my discovery, feeling kind of proud that I had discovered such a revolutionary idea, and quite sure that I was on to something big. He responded rather matter-of-factly, “my dad has been involved with that since 1998.” He was talking about my uncle Richard who is the founder of the Maine Time Dollar Network, one of the larger Time Banks in the country, based in Portland, Maine. Although Timebanking hasn’t been my main focus since I first got involved with community currencies, I have been continually drawn to its emphasis on the meeting of basic human rights through generosity and a “pay-it-forward” ethic as the core of its mission.  I also remember my late mentor, Mike, saying to me once that if money were to continue into the coming age, it would most likely be denominated in units of time.

The conference was sponsored in part by the Dane County Time Bank (http://danecountytimebank.org/) who has made amazing progress since their launch in 2005. I am so impressed with Stephanie Rearick, an attendee of the Local Currency Conference I organized in 2004 and the director of the Dane County Time Bank, for her amazing leadership in pulling the whole thing together including the conference itself. They now have 562 members and a variety of programs that are based on the Timebanking program including a stellar Youth Court initiative where young people earn time dollars for jury duty and for their community service sentence. There president, Cheri Maples, was one of the key-note speakers. She deservedly received a standing ovation for an amazingly touching speech. She was only one of many top notch speakers including John McKnight who, short of Van Jones, gave one of the most moving talks I have ever heard. John is the Director of the Center for Urban Development and a pioneer in “Asset-based Community Development” which is a staple part of the Timebanking movement.

But who caught my attention the most was Nipun Mehta. An ex-programmer for Sun Microsystems, Nipun started an organization called Charity Focus (www.charityfocus.org) and has dedicated his life to teaching and inspiring people around the power of the gift economy. Nipun also wrote a beautiful blog entry about his experience at the conference. I highly recommend that you check it out, http://www.charityfocus.org/blog/view.php?id=1663, for he has summed up the conference with more eloquence and grace than I am able. It must be said that Nipun is a master in the art of story-telling. He had pretty much comprised his entire talk of stories that he had collected over the years, of people being transformed by the act of giving. Each story was recited with an angelic presence that had everyone in the audience spell-bound. Reading his blog, it is easy to see where all the stories come from. For he has fully embodied the phrase, “be the change you wish to see in the world,” where his every action seems to bring forth a supreme generosity that in turn, infectiously brings out in others the desire to do the same. He reminded me that behind the veil of money, the true currency, is the alchemical process of transforming the proverbial lead into spiritual gold, which is none other than a state of being that, through one’s transactions, inspires in others the wish to do good for the world. Money, in my opinion, is this light, bound in the opaque container of economic theory, jargon and institutions. Money, when fully liberated, will be the full account of this transformation in human beings.


7 Countries Considering Abanding the US Dollar

Brace yourselves as the confidence game begins to unravel….

http://www.blacklistednews.com/view.asp?ID=4726


The Vernacular of Economic Conquest

A major theme at the recent Bioneers by the Bay conference and one that is getting more and more national attention is the issue of Conscious Consumerismm. The assertion is that we can change the world by what we choose to buy. Buy those carbon off-set credits when you fly on a plane or drive in a car. Spend the extra money to green your home. Drink fair trade coffee. I am all for spending your money wisely and with consciousness. Everyone should do this with out exception. It is essential. But there are two problems that I have when I hear people preach the mantra of “conscious consumerism” as the saving grace of the planet. 1) Conscious Consumerism for the majority of the planet is a privilege. Not to say that we should not put everything we got into aligning our values with what we buy. But we need to be aware that this is simply not an option for most people in the world who are restrained to the cheapest goods by a less than living wage. We need to be aware that they are poor largely in part because of a system. A system that has built into its DNA a notion that labor is a commodity. The commodification of labor can only have one effect which is to drive the income of average workers down as technology becomes more automized and capital becomes more expensive. A general income squeeze must result in ever-cheaper goods to compensate for this wide spread lack of income. The demand for cheap stuff leads to less mindfulness as to the process by which commodities are produced resulting in the gradual degradation of our environment.

2) The very fact that we have accepted, “consumer,” as a primary term by which we identify ourselves means that we have fallen inadvertently into the mental and cultural framework that we need to be breaking free of. We need to realize that the term “consumer” as a noun is part of an Imperial Vernacular–a system of words and language that has been re-formed and convoluted by the culture of finance and corporatocracy to control and pacify society. The word consumer’s archaic meaning is to “utterly destroy.” A bit removed from the modern formalized use of the word which has come to innocently mean, “a person who purchases goods or services for personal use.” But even this less indicting use has the effect of subconsciously ingraining a story into our minds that our purpose in life is to perpetually increase our acquisition of the colossal arsenal of products that are rolled out by our industrial and commercial leviathan. But as consumers of the limitless production of modern capitalist industry we are unwittingly consuming, that is, utterly destroying, life on earth at a rate comparable (unsurprisingly) to the staggering growth of our economy.

Again, my intention here is not to undermine the importance of people spending their money in more conscious ways, but to emphasize the complementary need for systemic change. Conscious consumption can, in fact, greatly assist in systemic change. But it will not substitute for it. We need both.

In the world of finance we find that there are similar etymological convolutions that, when inspected, shed light on how the corporate culture twists certain words around so that they hold a second definition that is really the shadow of the first. For instance, “share” in the world of finance is quite contrary to real sharing. Where as a financial share of a company is often reserved for those who own property, sharing is the act of distributing one’s bounty, with others with out, necessarily, regard for their ability to give back in kind. What about the word “equity?” It is worth pointing out the irony of how different its meaning can be depending if you are using it from a social justice context or a financial one.  The word “trust” in the world of relationship, it has a very important role. We cannot fully love one another if we do not trust one another. Yet in the world of finance trust as a noun is an entity who’s function is often to hoard different forms of wealth. Or it is something to be marketed or sold, as inferred in the term, “trust company.” Indeed, it is not a far cry to say that that is what is, in fact, happening.


“Say Hello to My Little Friend…”

scarfaceRecently I had a conversation with a colleague at Goddard where I was explaining the current monetary system using the allegory of cocaine’s effect on the neuro-chemistry of the brain. Basically the thinking is this: cocaine, and other opiates such as heroin, give people a euphoric experience by flushing the brain with an un-natural dose of exogenously produced neuro-transmitters— the stuff that allows every brain cell to exchange the electrical activity that make us happy and smart. Instant euphoria, what more could you ask for? But we all know the cost—the inevitable “crash” and physiological degradation, the dependency, the bad dreams. This depression comes from the gradual displacement of the drug with the bodies own ability to produce its own fresh supply of home made neurotransmitters. This often results in a completely downward cycle which ending in a total systemic breakdown. And the more addicted one gets the more one feels that they cannot get enough. The world, and particularly the US is now plunging into the same fate as our dear friend Tony Montana. Tony Montana was the notorious cuban drug lord of the 1983 film, Scarface, starring Al Pacino. However, the primary drug of choice, in our case, is not cocaine but money. The effect of money on society is quite similar to cocaine’s effect on the brain and body. Money, when you break it down, is the institutionalization of trust. Credit, which is the basis of money, comes from the Latin, credere, which means ‘to trust’ or ‘to believe.’ Of course the sacred quality of trusting another, in nature, is not a monopoly of the banking system. Trust is a natural part of being human. It is cultivated by relating to one another in a non-stressful environment with respect, love, integrity and authenticity. The idea of being ‘sold’ trust, presented to the average person, may seem like a crazy idea. But this is in fact what the banking system does. No wonder many banks, maybe yours, refers to itself as a ‘trust company.’ Both the public and the government are essentially sold the publics own collective credit back to itself at a ‘competive’ interest rate. The imposition of a base interest rate on society, means that people are compelled to compete with one another to make the most profit so as to stay above the looming steam roller of compounding interest. Money has replaced ‘organic’ trust in the same way that cocaine replaces the naturally produced neuro-transmitters in the brain, stimulating similar behavior in the macro-economy with its cycles of manic booms followed by the categorical ‘recession’ or ‘depression.’ Our government’s unquenchable desire for economic growth is a reflection of this reality. In terms of money, (and, according to Michael Ruppert, in more literal terms as well—see from the wilderness) America is now playing the principle narcotics agent to the world. Our power to create the worlds default reserve currency has given us the ability of funding our titanic trade and federal deficit. In our arrogance, we think we can just get away with siphoning real economic resources from the rest of the world with our almighty promissory notes. But America is at the end of the line, just like poor Tony Montana, locked in his room, friendless, isolated, surrounded by authorities, with nothing but a giant pile of cocaine on his desk and a globe inscribed with the words, “the world is yours.” The government has clearly been wary of the day when our creditors make a run for all their money that we don’t have, which is why half of the money we raise from the rest of the world goes to financing our beloved little killing machine. World, ‘Say hello to my little friend.”


Towards an economic system as if the earth and her people mattered

Welcome to my blogsite, the Tao of Money. The name for this blog came to me a few years ago when I was organizing the money conference at Bard College. Not far before the conference was to occur, I was worrying about the name of the conference which was, “Local Currencies in the 21st Century.” Something wasn’t working about that title. I wanted the title to be more broad but evoke a sense of intrigue and wonder and a sense of the transcendent.  This conference was delving into new levels of looking at money that are very outside the mainstream academic understanding of money. The “Tao of money” seemed to express that more suitably. In the end, it didn’t fly. So I put it on the shelf for use at some later date–maybe for a book or something. Well, here it is. Let me be clear, when I say the Tao of Money, again, I don’t wish to give the reader the sense that this is a place to gain super hot investor secrets that only Warren Buffet knows. My intent is this: to explore the history of money in its relationship to the evolution of human consciousness.

The Tao means “the Way.” In the dictionary it is described as “the absolute principle underlying the universe, combining within itself the principles of yin and yang and signifying the way, or code of behavior, that is in harmony with the natural order.” (New Oxford English Dictionary). The knowledge of the Tao is something that appeals greatly to me. It contrasts greatly with the western orthodox idea of God. Because it emphasizes the essential unity of duality and that cosmic creativity is more of a universal flow of interchanging forces, light and dark, taking place in the eternal Now. The point of this blog is to explore the relationship of money to this larger cosmic priniciple that exists in the Tao. in terms of its relationship to the evolution of humanity. I believe that we are emerging out of a period characterized largely by dualistic thinking which has created a false relationship to the rest of life. The money system, as it is a construct of this mode of consciousness, operates from this world view which has the effect of fulfilling the feedback loop. We believe that we are disconnected from the rest of life and from one another so we have created a system to mitigate “the risk” of separation and ultimately the possibility of death. It is a natural by-product of living in a divided and broken world–but it is this self-imposed money matrix that further inflames this point of view.

I must give credit to my late friend and mentor, Michael Murphy, who started this conversation nearly 5 years ago in 2002. Many thanks to Susan Witt of the Schumacher Society for providing me with a place to nourish my evolving thinking and education since 2003. His work can be viewed at http://www.revelation2seven.org/.