THAT’S NOT FAIR!
If you’ve got kids, you’ll probably hear these words on a daily basis. It’s not that “fairness” is a childish concept; it’s more that the idea establishes itself so early that it runs to the very foundations of our collective consciousness and remains there for the rest of our lives. Indeed, as we grow older many of us hold on to the belief that we possess an intrinsic ability to recognize when a situation is equitable.
In reality though, this world of fairness and equity is dependent on one thing; our brains and our willingness to exercise them. For instance, if I declare myself the “leader” of a remote Polynesian island and convince its inhabitants that I am their deity incarnate whom they must please with daily offerings of their youngest, fairest maidens, while the men labor all day in the fields and copper mines so that I, the Great Lord Everest, may be glorified and gracious in sparing them my wrath. The islanders, if taken in by this almighty bounder, may conclude that their situation is quite fair and just. It’s a square deal: they offer up their bodies for sexual and agricultural services in exchange for my “wrath” being spared. On the other hand, as an outside observer, you might conclude that they’re being exploited for their ignorance.
If that example seems a little weak then picture another scenario, a little closer to home perhaps. Let’s say you and I are neighbors, living out in the lesser-trodden parts of the Humboldt countryside in Northern California. Add to this blissful scene a single cow grazing on my ample pastureland. And you, perhaps not enjoying so grand an estate, are content to take care of a small brood of chickens. Now, I’m not suggesting that this situation is unfair. I may have chosen to work longer and harder for my larger slice of this fine Earth. But, in the spirit of community, we choose to share stuff. I like eggs and you like milk, so we agree to make a swap each morning: a pint of my (or Daisy’s) milk for two of your (chickens’) eggs. What could be simpler than this direct barter? Notwithstanding our animals’ rights or wrongs, so long as we humans establish mutual consent, we can share and enjoy our collective resources and life seems a whole lot more sunnyside-up for the both of us.
However, here’s where the plot begins to curdle. What if I awoke one morning intent on pursuing a more favorable deal for myself—say, just half a pint of milk in exchange for your two eggs? What then? A civil discussion over the garden fence, perhaps, with the hope of modifying our consensual agreement? Of course, you might inform me that I can “keep my milk” or other choice words to that effect. So what if I choose to avoid confrontation by secretly diluting your “pint of milk” with rainwater? Just a few drops at first so as not to raise your suspicions, yet slowly but surely, over the course of a year or so, I diluted the milk to the point where it’s actually fifty percent water! I’m patting myself on the back for executing this change so gradually, while all along you are none the wiser! I laugh with contempt at your hapless children, for watery milk is all they’ve ever known! Moooooohahahahaha! Another generation of suckers is born!
Perhaps I’m guilty of overly-indulging this example. Maybe I’m assuming a little too much naiveté on your part? Surely you’d detect that something was up with the milk, wouldn’t you? Nevertheless, emboldened by your seemingly boundless gullibility, I decide to take my scam to a whole new level. Instead of giving you watered down milk, one day I turn up at the garden fence with something entirely new. It’s a piece of paper. I call it a “milk certificate.” “You can redeem this for ‘real milk’ anytime! (Wink, wink)” I assure you, “What’s more, you can use these milk certificates as payment in trades with other vendors. It’s so convenient for you! And, best of all, you don’t have to keep them in the refrigerator!”
Okay, by now you’ve guessed it; we’re talking about money, not milk. But this milky analogy needs a few modifications before it even comes close to accurately reflecting our present predicament of economic slavery. You see, up until 1971, a dollar was redeemable for gold. Gold was chosen because it was viewed as universally valuable. People, knowingly or unknowingly, accepted dollar bills in exchange for real goods or services backed by a belief that these little pieces of paper would be later accepted by others—and an assurance that they were also convertible into physical gold at any time—well, during banking hours at least.
However, since the dollar was decoupled from the gold standard, it has lost around 90% of its purchasing power. Thinking back to our milk for eggs exchange, you might be tempted to picture a bottle of slightly cloudy water being handed to you over the garden fence, or a fistful of worthless “milk certificates.” But think again. For, if I am assuming the role of the banker in this scenario, I’m actually asking you to borrow some pieces of paper (with no mention of milk, eggs, sex, honey or anything else that’s tangible) and pay interest for the privilege! All these pieces of paper represent is your debt to me—a debt that I have created out of nothing, meanwhile you pledge to forfeit your house if you don’t keep up the repayments! Perhaps the Polynesian islander’s example wasn’t so far out of whack?
With the woe-is-us-machine we know and love as the Internet now running on all twelve-cylinders, it’s easy to blame Wall Street greed, the Illuminati, the neoconservatives, the royal family – anybody, in fact, but ourselves for the mess we’re in. But the inescapable fact is the only thing that holds up our monetary system is our persistent belief in it and our unwillingness to embrace viable alternatives. Our problem is one of philosophy, not politics. How have so many of us been hoodwinked into accepting such an absurd tautology: a dollar is worth another dollar—what sort of insidious, circular, recursive symbolism is this? But then, take these dollars away and how are you going to pay for your groceries?
You really don’t need a PhD in economics (or any other pseudo-science for that matter) to understand that as more make-believe money is pumped into the financial system, the purchasing power of each dollar is diluted, just like the nourishment of our watery milk. This is inevitable so long as an inflated money supply chases the same amount of goods and services. (The Spanish discovered this when they returned from the Americas with boats laden with gold. They thought they were going to be incredibly wealthy, but the amount of goods and services available back home had not really changed. Result? Prices simply went up!) The real privilege of the super-rich is their priority lane access to this newly created money. In essence, it’s not so much the quantity of money they have, but the fact that they get to spend it into circulation first, before the rest of us cotton on to the fact that it’s been watered down. By the time these dilute dollars finally meander to you and me, it’s little more than cloudy water, or symbolic cloudy water, or … confused? Good. Now get back to work.
Perhaps we need to ask ourselves this very simple question: what is money? Don’t shy away from it—no need to over complicate it either. You don’t want to spend your life chasing an enigma now do you? Don’t leave this to the “experts”—the people whose career depends on maintaining their intellectual propriety with confusion and obfuscation. You shouldn’t make the mistake of thinking that money is intrinsically a bad or evil thing either. At the very least concede that it’s very useful stuff, helping us to transcend the limitations of direct barter. Problems really occur when we seek money as if it were the true wealth in and of itself, rather than merely a symbolic means of exchange.
So what are we to do? Should we join some protest movement waving “End the Fed” banners? Should we petition our governments for greater freedoms, or is that, as the monetary prophet E.C. Reigel wrote over fifty years ago, just an absurd act of deference, “wholly lacking the spirit of a freeman.” In short, are we going to take responsibility for the mess we’re in, or are we going to let “the economists” sort it all out for us?
All facetiousness aside for a moment, one by one, we are indeed waking up to the fact that something is very wrong. Looking at the world with the eyes of our ancients we realize a fundamental truth—our monetary system has been corrupted to one where national sovereignty is a joke on a naive populous. We are collectively enslaved to ‘unelected’ central banks through usurious and fraudulent money systems, an eternally un-payable “debt,” created out of nothing but our promise to repay. It is a deeply absurd and untenable situation for any person to endure. Yet
the mainstream media persist in echoing the bankers’ threats of the sky falling down and untold misery if we don’t put up with the status quo. Heaven forbid if enough people discover the truth – that we don’t actually need banks at all in order to issue currency and trade with each other, on a personal, corporate or even national level.
The Internet has helped us share our ideas, but its real power is in the creation of a common monetary language. Forget about “internet banking” – that’s just a sideshow. Imagine a new form of money, issued by the producers of this world. By producers I mean the corporations that generate our electricity, or make our computers, or grow the tomatoes. Imagine money backed, not by debt, or by gold (or tungsten) but by … wait for it … real stuff. Cars, beef burgers, Thai massages, goods and services that we use every day. Sounds unbelievable? Well, so did the concept of a spherical earth to most people a few thousand years ago. It’s time to unplug from the Matrix.
At the center of it all is a global scale of value. What’s that? Well, think of an inch. Or, if you prefer, think of a centimeter, a foot, a mile, or a furlong. Where would we be without these universal units of length? Now imagine if we created the same thing, but for value. Of course, we’ve been conditioned into mistaking our monetary units as our value units. When we talk about the value of things we invariably think in terms of dollars, or pounds, or yen, don’t we? This beautiful, shiny phone costs $799. This car costs $25,000. This house is valued at $500,000. We need to stop thinking like this. This ignorance is at the kernel of our enslavement to the bankers. We are guzzling watery milk without so much of a whimper of complaint. Now it’s time for a good burping.
Unlike an inch or a centimeter, the dimensions of a dollar keep changing. We call this “inflation.” But how then can we measure “value” using these shape-shifting units of exchange? It’s almost as if we are confusing the item being measured with the ruler it’s being measured on. Are you beginning to see the magician’s sleight of hand? Money has no real value.
Crucially, take note that a global scale of value is not the same thing as a global currency. Moreover, a global scale of value would give birth to thousands, maybe millions of different currencies, not just one—but they would all be measured on the same scale, and all of them backed by goods and services in common demand.
The ratio of credit to demand (i.e. offers to buy vs. offers to sell a company’s credit token) can be instantly evaluated, thanks to the Internet, meaning the actual value of the credits in circulation can adjust in real time. The idea of money as fluid and self-correcting, does not reward greed and is based on real goods and services. It may be a little tricky to grasp at first but really we’re only describing a world where the monopoly over the issuance of credit, currently enjoyed by banks, has been removed. If this sounds crazy then remember, so did the idea that the world was a sphere and that there were potentially people living “upside-down.”
Ultimately, the real treasure of this planet is you and I. It’s time for the credit commons to be restored to the people instead of being monopolized by bankers who create nothing. Until enough of us wake up to their false pretensions towards deity, docile and malleable human beings will remain the ultimate resource to be controlled, manipulated and exploited.
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[alert type=white ]This article was originally published in Garden Culture Magazine, Issue 1, Edition 1 under the same title.[/alert]