Wednesday, May 29, 2013

Notes on notes

(Thanks to author and speaker Charles Eisenstein for all of his work, much of the following is based on his monumental book "Ascent of Humanity".

Money is a little like sex.  We think about it a lot, we plan to have more, it excites us and we are always thinking of innovative ways to use it.  It is also like sex in that we tend not to talk about it with acquaintances and we feel some shame in pursuing it.

Money is an agreement of value, we use it as an easy means to exchange, and in that way there is nothing inherently wrong with it.  However, the monetary systems of the world we have now are all debt-based.  The money is created by our agreement to repay it with interest, which requires all production - goods and services - to continue to “grow”, so that the money to pay the interest on money we borrowed into existence can be created.  Goods and services are created by taking something that is free - fish, trees, childcare, food preparation, laying claim to it in some way and then selling it back to those who now “need” it.  All modern growth-based economies are ponzi schemes.  When the natural bank account is empty, as it soon will be, the economy collapses.  This is why the U.S. Is spending billions of dollars per month to try to stimulate their economy.  It won’t work because:

 A)The economy is not economical - it does not frugally produce what is essential, it produces mostly crap. How many things do you own that have broken?  Is there anywhere to fix them instead of buying a new one?

B)You can’t have exponential growth on a limited planet.

The money we use sets us in competition against one another in a way that was unheard of in tribal cultures.  Tribal cultures didn’t use money, nor did they “barter”.  The relationship between humans was based on the gift.  If I’m lucky and I catch 6 fish in one day and can only eat one, I store the other 5 fish in the belly of my brothers.  When I’m unlucky my brothers (meaning anyone I know) will feed me.  The agricultural revolution that happened approximately 10,000 years ago created a surplus of food which then had to be stored, protected and traded.  This created the need to acquire and lay claim to land.  The ownership model extended to owning animals and even other people and eventually even ideas.  This surplus of food also allowed us to have many more offspring, who all also needed land....and 10,000 years later we are where we are today.  No land left that isn’t claimed, almost no fish in the sea.

So, when you look into your wallet at money, you are looking at a symbol of trade based on debt, not value.  It is also anonymous, and creates anonymity when it is used.  Your individual gifts become lost in the sea of commerce where everyone is concerned with making enough of this anonymous substance to pay the bills.  And almost everyone is in debt, and competing against one another for money.  This has been going on since the introduction of debt-based money, so many philosophers and economists see human behavior as intrinsically competitive  and self-centered.  They never studied what humans were like before money.

So how can you make this anonymous symbol of debt and competition somewhat sacred?  Is it possible in some small way to make these bills that move from hand to hand less anonymous?

Yes.  You can place an idea, a short poem, a drawing, onto the bill that you give someone when you pay for something of real value.  That could be paying to listen to a great street performer sing a song.  Or it could be giving it to your massage therapist, or your yoga teacher.  This isn’t going to change what our current monetary system does, and it will still eventually fail.  But it may be a message to another that we are not all in it for just the money.

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