It’s an open question. I’d like to share here my thoughts, ideas, and puzzlements about it, and I’m hoping readers who are concerned about the situation will share their own ideas.
Things I feel pretty sure of
- The current banking/money system is structurally flawed, unjust, and unsustainable. It needs to be changed.
- I want Workable Economics to be a positive effort and keep a positive tone. Anger, ranting, blaming, and snarkiness, whether or not they’re justified, have marginal workability at best and are often counter-productive.
- To gain any sort of broad acceptance, this subject needs to be made accessible to ordinary people, not just mathematicians and lawyers.
- The Positive Money (PM) movement in the UK has been building support and making significant progress in bringing monetary reform to the UK. There is a lot that we in the US could learn from their approach. They have also created an international outreach–the International Movement for Monetary Reform (IMMR)–that we might be able to connect with.
Things I believe
- I believe a viable replacement system needs to be something that people can readily and easily accept and trust to replace what we use for money now. It should look and behave from a ground level perspective about the same way money does now—or the way people think it does.
- I don’t think we can afford to get rid of cash money. The system needs to work for everyone, and that includes not just business owners and salaried employees, but also independent gig workers, people without the credentials to open bank accounts, and people standing at freeway off ramps with cardboard signs.
- Of the various ideas and proposals that have been put forward to replace the current debt-money system, I think sovereign money—replacing bank-created debt money with debt-free money created by the national government—is the most likely to succeed.
- There are proposals that are more elegant and in theory more workable and sustainable than sovereign money (Thomas Greco’s Credit Clearing for example), but I don’t see how they could be made to replace the existing bank money system starting from where we are now. It seems to me, trying to convert from what we have now to one of these systems would be like trying to “convert” a crippled freight train to a hot air balloon.
- I think it’s important to focus on and build from sound basic principles and avoid getting too tangled up in the history of how our system got to where it is, or who is to blame for it. What I believe we need is the most direct route we can find from what we now have to something that is based on sound logic and mathematics, workable, sustainable, and capable of being implemented starting from the social and governmental structure we have.
- I think we have major obstacles to monetary reform in the US—in some respects worse than any other country. We have the most rampant casino capitalism and selfish Darwinist business ethics on the planet, and we are also the biggest perpetrator of economic injustice against the rest of the world. Plus we currently have a very polarized population with lots of black and white thinking and unexamined opinion ranting.
On the plus side though, we still have a reasonably free society and a democratic form of government, and we have a level of prosperity that still allows ordinary people to devote their energy and resources to advocating for change. There is also evidence that the current turmoil is making people pay attention and get active, so some of this could work in favor of positive change. In any case I think it’s worth a try.
- I don’t think there is any chance of getting effective monetary reform legislated and implemented by the current (2018) US federal government. The current congress would not pass it, if they did pass it the president would not sign it, and if he did sign it, it would end up being subverted during implementation.
- I think the thrust at this time needs to be education and outreach to ordinary people and lower level government entities or non-government groups. What we would need in order to bring about change is enough understanding of the situation by enough people that it begins to be “common knowledge” and the voting public begins to demand that their representatives do something.
- I believe we in the US can benefit from the acceptance of monetary reform concepts being generated by Positive Money in the UK and by IMMR groups in other countries. The fact that they are well-reasoned, positive, focused, and accessible engenders a strong credibility. By taking a similar approach, we can build on that credibility.
- I think any reform of the system, will be met with great resistance by those whose power and money are invested in keeping it as it is. But there is strength in numbers, and the wealthy and powerful are relatively few in number. Also the system is utterly dependent on the work and compliance of the many—namely us—we the people. There is power there.
Questions and puzzlements
- The vast majority of the population in the US is heavily influenced by mass media—TV, magazines, movies—which are produced by large capitalist corporations motivated by making profits for their shareholders who are beneficiaries of the flawed current system. How can the monetary reform message go out on a large enough scale and gain enough acceptance to become part of mainstream thinking in spite of this fact?
- There is enormous complexity in banking and economics as it’s currently operating. Everything is connected to and affecting everything else. How do we come up with an alternative that we can be reasonably confident will actually improve the situation? How do we guard against unforeseen consequences turning out to make it worse despite our best intentions?
- Whatever replacement system is implemented, there will very likely be some people who try to game it for their own profit. How can a new system be protected from such efforts without the protections becoming monsters in their own right?
- Positive Money’s proposal for the UK involves a lot of detail about how banks will continue lending money at interest. While I was researching and working on Workable Economics, I came to the conclusion that money in its best and most workable form, should be strictly and only a medium of exchange—something that can be used to represent value and facilitate the exchange of goods and services. As soon as anyone in the society is allowed to use money itself to make money, the system is degraded and polluted and will foster injustice.
However, society as it’s functioning now in the US, uses borrowed money for almost all large purchases or business expansion. Even if we could build a system where lending and borrowing are obsolete, that won’t come overnight and in the meantime some kind of money lending will be needed. So, though I’m not entirely comfortable with it, I think what PM is doing with bank lending is probably necessary.
Where (approximately) I think Workable Economics should go
- Education and outreach to lots of people at a grass roots level to make the problem known and get people to envision a solution. This needs to focus on presenting the most basic principles in an accessible form that ordinary people can deal with.
- Developing and refining a legal solution: Involving multiple educated concerned people in drafting, reviewing, debugging and refining the most workable solution we can come up with in the next 3 or 4, or 7 or 8 years.
- When a strong enough base has been developed, and a sound, well-reasoned, sufficiently detailed proposal has been written and reviewed, then advocating at the federal government level for a transition to sovereign money.
Point 2 and 3 above might involve connecting and collaborating with the American Monetary Institute (AMI), which operates from the east coast and is more geared toward economists and lawyers.
What do you think?
Thanks for reading this far. Comments are welcome.
Posted August 4, 2018