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Newsletter No. 45 - February 2014

Links to previous Newsletters can be found here.

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CONTENTS

1. Introduction

2. National Money System Reforms - A Summary

3 . Creating The National Money Supply

4. Taxing The Value Of Common Resources, Including Land

5. Campaigns For A Citizen's Income (Basic Income)

6. Weather Conditions And Climate Change

7. Class Consciousness

8. Other Topics

9. In Memoriam

 

1. INTRODUCTION

Two events in central London next month (the 2014 Positive Money Annual Conference and a People's Parliament Meeting on Citizen's Income) focus on necessary changes in the world's money system.

As my book Future Money explains, these reforms will contribute toward the reform of the money system as a whole. The way it works now is motivating us to destroy our civilisation and perhaps our species - see www.jamesrobertson.com/futuremoney.htm.

The necessary reforms at the national level are discussed in Chapters 3 and 4 of that book. Item 2 below summarises them for easy reference, and Items 3, 4, and 5 are about current developments on:

  • changing how money is created
  • a necessary shift in taxation
  • and progress towards a Citizens Income.

Further items touch on: present and future weather conditions and climate change; the futility of class consciousness; corruption in action and thought; and some hopeful initiatives.

 

2. NATIONAL MONEY SYSTEM REFORMS - A SUMMARY

This is a summary of the reforms I believe are needed to the national money system.

Governments are at the heart of the money system. By deciding

  • how the national money supply is created,
  • what is taxed and not taxed, and
  • what public expenditure is spent on and not spent on,

governments largely determine how money flows through the economy, thereby influencing the impact of our activities on other people and the Earth's resources.

(1) Money supply (Chapter 3 - Future Money):
Transfer the function of creating the national money supply:
(a) from commercial banks as a source of private profit to themselves,
(b) to a public agency - e.g. the central bank - as a monetarily required source of debt-free public revenue, which will be spent into circulation by the government for public purposes.
 
(2) Taxation (Chapter 4 - Future Money):
A tax shift that will:
(a) take taxes off incomes, profits, value added and other financial rewards for useful work and enterprise,
(b) put taxes on to value subtracted by people and organisations for private profit from common resources (such as land) and from the environment's capacity to absorb pollution and waste (such as carbon emissions); and
(c) reduce the present opportunities (through tax havens, etc) for people and businesses to avoid paying their dues to society.

(3) Public expenditure
(Chapter 4 - Future Money)
A shift in public expenditure will:
(a) reduce public spending on perverse subsidies, and on some of the dependency-reinforcing services now provided directly by big government or by expensive contracts to big business and big finance, and
(b) transfer that money to the distribution of a Citizen's Income directly to all citizens, enabling them to decide how more of their rightful share of the value of common resources should be spent.

 

3. CREATING THE NATIONAL MONEY SUPPLY
(The first of the three points mentioned above)

(1) Positive Money

(a) 2014 Annual Conference, 1st March, Central London. Details and purposes at www.positivemoney.org/conference.

(b) Ben Dyson says "Change to UK's money system could solve our long-term economic problems" - see The Guardian, 6th February at www.theguardian.com/business/economics-blog/2014/feb/06/change-uk-money-system-solve-long-term-economic-problems - start-of-comments.

(c) Advice to Scotland, see www.positivemoney.org/2014/02/scottish-currency-5-lessons-design-flaws-pound-sterling.

(2) Joseph Huber says "monetary reform policies need more support from academia". See www.paecon.net/PAEReview/issue66/Huber66.pdf.

(3) Stephen Zarlenga offers a convincing answer to frequently asked questions (FAQs) about monetary reform at www.monetary.org/intro-to-monetary-reform/faqs.

(4) Unlike monetary reform, public banking does not bring the currency under public control. It deals in the currency that other banks use today, but in the public interest. See Ellen Brown - www.truthdig.com/report/item/from_austerity_to_prosperity_ why_i_am_running_for_california_treasurer_2014.

 

4. TAXING THE VALUE OF COMMON RESOURCES INCLUDING LAND
(The second of the three points)

(1) Commenting on Item 5 in my previous newsletter (No. 44), Jeffery J Smith reminded me that the outbreak of the Great War in Britain in 1914 wiped out Lloyd George's Liberal government's budget. Its controversial proposal to introduce land value taxation gave way to the demands of war; and political and economic orthodoxies since then haven't accepted it. Only recently, a hundred years later, is it gathering increasing support.

Jeff edits The Progress Report (www.progress.org/the-progress-report), campaigning for land value taxation and geonomics in the steps of Henry George and his book Progress and Poverty of 1879. Articles under the "Geonomics is .." category on his website include not only "Henry George, a Life that Inspired a Movement" but also, among other items, an explanation why a "Citizens Dividend" (that I call "Citizens Income" as at Item 5 below) should be paid out of "natural rent" (or a tax on the use of natural resources).

Related US websites include www.commongroundorwa.org and www.opednews.com/author/author24983.html.

(2) The International Union for Land Value Taxation General Secretary is Alanna Hartzok - see www.theiu.org and www.earthrights.net/about/hartzok.html.

(3) Dave Wetzel , President of the UK Labour Land Campaign , has congratulated the Institute for Fiscal Studies (IFS) on its conclusion in its Green Budget 2014 that a Land Value Tax on all commercial land would be more efficient and better for businesses than the current Business Rates system. For details see: www.labourland.org/in_the_news/ press_releases /IFS_is_right_to_back_Land_Value_Taxes.php.

(4) For the Liberal Democrats, the IFS' conclusion has been similarly welcomed by ALTER (Action for Land Taxation & Economic Reform) - www.libdemsalter.org.uk/en/article/2014/766437/ifs-backs-land-value-tax. Tony Vickers gives a candid account of present thinking among LibDems - see "Opinion: Why fear this tax?" at www.libdemvoice.org/opinion-why-fear-this-tax-35409.html.

(5) The UK Coalition for Economic Justice proposes an annual Location Value Tax (LVT) (also known as a Land Value Tax) to reduce taxes on enterprise and labour. Its documentary film on 'The Taxing Question of Land' was recently very well received at the RSA (Royal Society of Arts) and can be seen on their website - www.c4ej.com

(6) The Henry George Society of Devon is due to meet in Plymouth on Tuesday 25th February and again on 25th March. For details and much else of interest see www.henrygeorgedevon.wordpress.com.

 

5. CAMPAIGNS FOR A CITIZEN'S INCOME (BASIC INCOME)
(The third of the three points)

(1) A People's Parliament Meeting on Citizen's Income,

4th March 6pm, Houses of Parliament, ticket necessary. For details and speakers see www.citizensincome.org. That also gives news about The Citizen's Income Newsletter, issue 1, 2014 and the book Money For Everyone by Malcolm Torry.

(2) A Petition to the European Commission demanding that it facilitate research into Unconditional Basic Income in order to eradicate poverty - https://secure.avaaz.org/en/petition/our_chance_to_end_poverty.

 

6. WEATHER CONDITIONS, CLIMATE CHANGE, & OUR FUTURE

In Britain, as in many other countries, recent attention has been concentrated on destructive storms battering our coasts, inland floods swamping peoples' lives, and transport and other infrastructure being damaged by the weather. Unlike less fortunate countries, our weather has not caused many deaths among our people.

The immediate urgency for all countries suffering these disasters is to deal with the present situation. But longer-term worldwide concern is growing too: will extreme weather conditions of this kind be a permanent outcome of climate change ? What should we do about that?

See Global Ethics Network : " Understanding Climate, Weather, and Climate Change" - www.globalethicsnetwork.org/profiles/blogs/rev-understanding-climate-weather-and-climate-change-an-interview.

The idea of "rewilding" the uplands is gathering support as parts of Britain face repeated flooding, with more rainfall on the way - www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-25864631.

In general, we need to take note of the signs that we could be making a mess of our future. How we treat Nature and one another is the key to it. People whose electricity supply has recently been interrupted by floods will know how vulnerable we are to power outage. See www.sciencedaily.com/releases/2014/01/140127093033.htm.

For the wider future, see the following:

www.simplicityinstitute.org/wp-content/uploads/2011/04/LimitsToGrowth CritiqueofRadicalLeftSimplicityInstitute.pdf

 

7. CLASS CONSCIOUSNESS

In the PS to my October newsletter, I guessed that "Plebgate" would run and run. I was right. Did Andrew Mitchell call the police "f*****g plebs" or did they pretend that he had done so? He has now lost his job as a government minister and faces an expensive court case; and one policeman is in prison for lying and others are facing disciplinary action. If you want to know more, see www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-24548645.

From the distant past I recall learning "difficilior potior": the more difficult interpretation of an ancient text is probably the correct one. Does that apply in this case? If so, with what result? And either way, what will this silly affair have cost us taxpayers in the end?

"Plebs" in that context must be an offensive version of "working class" in the traditional scale of "working", "middle" and "upper" classes.

The BBC have now decided to fit people in the UK into seven new classes as follows: (www.bbc.co.uk/news/uk-22007058)

  • Elite,
  • Established middle class,
  • Technical middle class,
  • New affluent workers,
  • Traditional working class,
  • Emergent service workers,
  • Precariat, or precarious proletariat.

It isn't clear what use will be made of all these class distinctions. I can't even remember ever discussing which of the previous three I belong to. For practical purposes, perhaps class has become a meaningless concept, like capitalism, socialism, communism etc.

However, don't let that put you off Broke: How to Survive the Middle-Class Crisis by David Boyle. It is about finding "new ways of keeping alive the values that the existence of the middle classes make possible, for themselves and anybody else who chooses them: broad education , tolerance and independence ". See www.david-boyle.co.uk for details of the book and his other very interesting work.

 

8. OTHER TOPICS

(1) Food and Farming

(a) Ending food speculation. WDM campaigners have won a major victory which will prevent food speculation by banks. See www.triodos.co.uk/en/about-triodos/news-and-media/colour-of-money/ending-food-speculation.

(b) Industrial farming is causing ecological meltdown See www.theguardian.com/books/2014/jan/29/farmageddon-cost-cheap-meat-lymbery-review.

(c) Genetically modified (GM) food. Seven sins against science. www.soilassociation.org/motherearth/viewarticle/ articleid/4752/the-pro-gm-lobbys-seven-sins-against-science.

 

(2) Inequality. Some recent comments and research about the growing gap between rich and poor.

(a) www.politicalcleanup.wordpress.com/2014/01/29/bill-gates-myth/

(b) www.birminghampost.co.uk/news/news-opinion/dr-steven-mccabe-exploring-solutions-6531315

(c) www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/ 2014/jan/19/inequality-threat-recovery-poverty-pay

(d) www.jrf.org.uk/sites/files/jrf/household-income-standards-full.pdf

 

(3) Corruption and Self-Destruction.

(a) "The extent of corruption in Europe is breathtaking and it costs the EU economy at least 120bn euros (£99bn) annually." See www.bbc.co.uk/news/world-europe-26014387.

(b) Big Pharma lobbyists exploit patients and doctors - www.independent.co.uk/news/uk/politics/revealed-big-pharma-links-to-nhs-policy-with-senior-mps-saying-medical-industry-uses-wealth-to-influence-government-9120187.html.

(c) "These claims are false. Arms export controls are riddled with loopholes and barely enforced" - www.politicalcleanup.wordpress.com/2014/01/24/corporate-political-jargon-and-illusion-obscuring-the-immorality-of-the-arms-trade.

(d) Oh Brave New World: Cameron and Hollande agree to further killer drones and polluting nuclear power - www.dronewarfare.wordpress.com/2014/01/31/oh-brave-new-world-cameron-and-hollande-agree-to-further-killer-drones-and-polluting-nuclear-power.

(e) Greenpeace says Sellafield has the highest concentration of radioactivity on the planet and that its reprocessing plants discharge some 8 million litres of nuclear waste into the sea each day - www.uk.reuters.com/article/2014/01/31/uk-britain-sellafield-idUKBREA0U0CW20140131.

 

(4) Some Good News

(a) Progress with Eradicating Ecocide - www.eradicatingecocide.com.

(b) Concept and Practice of Sharing Resources is fast becoming a mainstream phenomenon - www.commondreams.org/view/2014/01/22-3.

(c) Offical Support for Ecological Land Co-operative - www.neweranetwork.info/2014/02/05/ecological-land-co-operative-shaun-chamberlin.

(d) Community Energy Success - www.greenallianceblog.org.uk/2014/01/27/community-energy-comes-of-age.

(e) The Church of Scotland and Humanist Society Scotland have jointly called for legislation to change 'Religious Observance' in school assemblies to "Time for Reflection" - www.ekklesia.co.uk/node/20016.

 

9. IN MEMORIAM: MARGRIT KENNEDY

It was a big shock to hear of Margrit's death. She had made and was still making a great contribution to new thinking about money.

I will always remember my pleasure and admiration when I visted her and her husband Declan at their Lebensgarten ecovillage, Steyerberg.

You may like to see what her colleague from Feasta said: wwww.thomasattwood.wordpress.com/2014/01/22/in-memory-of-margrit-kennedy.

 

James Robertson

21 February 2014