Newsletter No. 34 - December 2011
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tomorrow's world citizens care for themselves?
2. Support for monetary
reform is growing in Britain
3. ... and in the USA
4. Money, economics and ethics:
Is there a link after all?
5. The co-operative
1. MUST TOMORROW'S WORLD
CITIZENS CARE FOR THEMSELVES?
Two seriously backward-looking decisions have
been made in the past few weeks by the British government.
First, among the 27 leaders of European countries
at their recent Brussels meeting, Prime Minister
David Cameron alone rejected the proposal to
prevent the Eurozone's collapse. His explicit reason
for doing so was to "promote and defend" the
right of Britain to maintain the City of London's competitive
advantage in what is now increasingly recognised as "casino
banking" - see Items 2 & 3 below.
Second, in this year's "Autumn Statement", the Chancellor
of the Exchequer, George Osborne, gave higher
priority to money-measured "economic growth" than
to policies for conserving the earth's resources on
which the future of human civilisation depends. For
a critical assessment see www.neweconomics.org/press-releases/autumn-statement-2011-nefs-response.
These should be seen in the context of:
(1) the Organisation for Economic Co-operation and
Development's (OECD) report that "Britain
leads the world as the pay gap between the rich and poor
widens". This "dispels the assumption
that the benefits of economic growth automatically trickle
down to the disadvantaged". Those are quotes from The
Times (not exactly a radical newspaper!) of 5th
December. Does an excessively dominant financial
services sector result in a too wide a gap between rich
and poor? Yes, of course.
(2) relevant research by the New Economics Foundation
in 2009 showing that "while collecting salaries
of between £500,000 and £10 million, leading
City bankers destroy £7 of social value for every
pound in value they generate". See A
Bit Rich: Calculating the real value to society of different
professions - www.neweconomics.org/publications/bit-rich.
(3) the recent disclosure that over 50% of the total £12.18
million donations to the Conservative Party now
comes from the banking and financial services sector. For
details see www.thebureauinvestigates.com/
But, getting back to the Brussels meeting, its
consequences for the Eurozone - and for our
globalised world economy as a whole - will probably
not matter much one way or the other. Unless
we stop giving commercial banks the privilege of
creating almost all our money as debt, we are bound
to face increasing debt, deepening economic
recession, and worse social
hardship and public disorder in
every country concerned. Apart from the Eurozone countries
and others in the European Union, those most directly
affected will be their major trading partners in Britain
and the United States - but few others will remain
unaffected in our interconnected globalised world.
The impacts on domestic politics in Britain will become
clearer in the next few days and weeks. They could include:
- a split between Liberal Democrats who
stay in the coalition government with the
Conservatives, and those who
withdraw into political independence;
- a sharper perception of
Conservative politicians as "self-confessed
backward-looking people in the pay of greedy bankers";
- continuing doubt about the relevance
of the Labour Party;
- widening awareness of the profitable
privilege now given to commercial banks to create almost
all our money as debt; and
- growing pressures largely generated outside
mainstream politics to take that privilege
away from the banks.
Meanwhile, in Durban, South Africa, the 2011
Summit meeting on Climate Change seemed to have reached
agreement on minimal progress at the last minute.
China and the USA, the world's two biggest emitters
of carbon, and India agreed to join in a plan led by
Europe to reach a global agreement in 2015 to
restrict emissions of greenhouse gases linked to climate
change in 2020. However, as soon as
the Canadian representatives got home, Canada withdrew
from the Kyoto climate agreement, leaving everything
Both these sets of activities - concerning
the future of money and the human
impact on the planet's resources - demonstrate
the inability of the leaders of our species today to
create decent prospects for the children and grandchildren
of adults already living now, let alone for their children
and grand-children in the more distant future. Can
today's young people around the world take
it on themselves to act with one another -
intelligently, constructively and co-operatively -
to create a better future for themselves and their
Meanwhile, UK Chancellor Osborne is expected to announce
today that banking reforms will be legislated
for by 2015 and enacted by 2019. They will need
very costly and complicated new regulations. The simpler,
commonsense way of creating the public money supply as
at Items 2 and 3 immediately following will probably
have been recognised well before 2019. I hope so.
2. SUPPORT FOR MONETARY REFORM IS GROWING IN
(1) POSITIVE MONEY goes from strength
to strength in its campaign for monetary reform. For
what Ben Dyson and his colleagues have achieved see www.positivemoney.org.uk/about/our-achievements .
If you don't already know them, look further at www.positivemoney.org.uk. "The
proposed Bank of England Act" for implementing
monetary reform is at www.positivemoney.org.uk/draft-legislation.
(2) As an original founder of the New
Economics Foundation in the 1980s and the co-author (with
Joseph Huber) of Creating New Money, which was published
by nef in 2000 - www.jamesrobertson.com/books.htm#creating -
it has been good to see nef working
on monetary reform together with Positive
For nef's new work on relevant topics, see www.neweconomics.org/publications/feather-bedding-financial-services.
(3) Since 1997 the annual
October Prosperity Conferences at
Bromsgrove have kept the flag flying for monetary
reform. They have been convened and inspired by James
Gibb Stuart - http://prosperityuk.com/bromsgrove-conference/about-james-gibb-stuart-the-convener-of-bromsgrove/ -
and organised by Prosperity's publisher, Alistair
McConnachie - http://prosperityuk.com .
The 2009 Conference was the first to be sponsored by
the James Gibb Stuart Trust. The Report
on it conveys the participants' commitment to the progress
being made and then in the two following years - http://prosperityuk.com/bromsgrove-conference/bromsgrove-2009/.
Simon Dixon - www.SimonDixon.org -
is one of speakers reported there whose work should be
noticed and supported.
Closely associated with these Bromsgrove Conferences
is a website - http://thomasattwood.wordpress.com/ -
dedicated to the memory of the 19th century money reformer, Thomas
Attwood. He was the first Birmingham Member
of Parliament following The Great Reform Act of 1832
for which he successfully campaigned.
I much appreciate the Attwood Award presented in October.
Readers will find many interesting items on the Attwood
website. Personally, I greatly valued the historical
perspective resulting from research for the Attwood Memorial
Lecture in 2002 – http://thomasattwood.wordpress.com/the-attwood-events-awards-2002-%E2%80%93-2009/6-james-robertson-2002.
3. SUPPORT FOR MONETARY REFORM IS GROWING IN
(1) Congressman Dennis Kucinich introduced
a historic Bill in Congress on 21 September - the
National Emergency Employment Defense (NEED) Act of 2011,
HR 2990. See:
Its aim is described as:
- to create a full employment economy as
a matter of national economic defense;
- to provide for public investment in capital
- to provide for reducing the cost of public
- to retire public debt;
- to stabilize the Social Security retirement system;
- to restore the monetary system of the United
- for other public purposes.
As Stephen Zarlenga points out - www.monetary.org - although
this Act is formally about employment, it proposes a
historic money reform containing all
the monetary provisions of the American Monetary Act
- including the end of “fractional reserve” banking.
(2) "How to Liberate America from Wall
Street Rule" - a July 2011 Report from
the New Economy Working Group, Primary Author: David
Korten - www.yesmagazine.org/pdf/liberateamericadownload.pdf.
If you are not already familiar with this report, it
makes an important contribution to understanding
how the money system should be reformed - although
it is not as simple as the basic monetary reform
proposal to stop the present creation of money
by commercial banks as profit-making debt and having
it created debt-free by a public agency in the public
The report's Appendix on "Navigating The
Transition To A New Economy" suggests
that it is not easy to map out in detail in advance
a clear answer to the following question: How
will the opposition be overcome from:
- all the people who positively benefit
from today's unjust economic system and will defend
- the many more people who will fear
that revolutionary attempts to reform it could turn
out to make things worse, and
- the many more people than that who
will continue to be governed by simple inertia?
But of course that is only realistic. It's not a reason
to give up the task.
4. MONEY, ECONOMICS AND ETHICS: Are They Linked
The following letter was published in The
8th March 2011, prompted by the news that the London
School of Economics (LSE) had accepted big sums of money
from the Libyan government.
"Sir, Around 1991 I offered the London School
of Economics a grant of £1 million to set up
a Chair in Business Ethics. John Ashworth, at that
time the Director of the LSE, encouraged the idea
but he had to write to me to say, regretfully, that the
faculty had rejected the offer as it saw no correlation
between ethics and economics. Quite."
Kalms, House of Lords
In the 1990s most other academic economists too, especially
those financed by big banks and other big businesses,
were teaching their students: "Don't confuse
economics with ethics".
Early in 2011, public scandal broke out over
the LSE's acceptance of large sums of money from the
Libyan Government, after Muammar Gadaffi's
son had been a student there. The LSE director Sir
Howard Davies resigned and former Lord Chief Justice
Lord Woolf was asked to conduct an enquiry on what
His "highly critical" report has now made
15 recommendations. The acting Director says that they
will all be implemented and that the LSE "will
create an ethics code to cover the entire institution" (The
Times, 1st December 2011). A sign of progress?
5. THE CO-OPERATIVE OPPORTUNITY: How
To Reboot A Sustainable Economy
Meeting in Central London - Details: http://on.coop/15february2012
Date: Wednesday 15 February
Elizabeth II Conference Centre, Westminster, SW1P 3EE
- 6pm for 6.30pm start
- Short speeches - Jonathon Porritt, Noreena
Hertz, and others
- 9pm finish.
With Seasonal Greetings and Best Wishes for
19 December 2011