[P2P-F] Fwd: Money for the People (GTN Discussion)

Michel Bauwens michelsub2004 at gmail.com
Thu Jul 20 08:43:19 CEST 2017

---------- Forwarded message ----------
From: Great Transition Network <gtnetwork at greattransition.org>
Date: Thu, Jul 20, 2017 at 3:25 AM
Subject: Money for the People (GTN Discussion)
To: michelsub2004 at gmail.com

>From Peter Barnes <peter at tomales.org>

I love Mary Mellor’s path-breaking thinking and writing on money. And I
completely agree with her main point: that we, the people, ought to reclaim
sovereignty over our currency and issue new money directly to ourselves as
part of a basic income, rather than let banks create it by making loans.

But her proposal, as well as others that are necessary for a Great
Transition, leave me wondering about how we craft a viable political
strategy. Speaking as an American, I wonder how many of my
fellow-countrymen have any inkling about how banks have privatized the
social construct we call money. Very few, I’d venture to say. So it is hard
to imagine a popular movement arising for monetary reform along Mellor’s
line. The same is true for other proposals discussed on this site: they are
necessary for our planet and society, but way too complex for the average
distracted citizen to comprehend.

That’s half of our political challenge. The other half is that all of our
proposals face intense political opposition from powerful legacy
industries, whether these be fossil fuel companies, health insurers or
banks. These companies have immense power to confuse the public, buy
politicians, and block progressive legislation. So how do we create a
framework that is simple and persuasive enough to inspire a popular
movement, and sturdy enough to do so over the decades it will take to
effect a Great Transition?

The best historical model we have, it seems to me, is social insurance.
Leaving aside its older European roots, this model took root in America
with the Social Security Act of 1935 — propelled by such grassroots
movements as the Townsend Clubs — and has expanded steadily ever since,
resisting all efforts from powerful industries to decimate or privatize it,
including the latest onslaught against the Affordable Care Act. What has
made social insurance so impregnable are its universality (the middle class
is solidly behind it) and the fact that it addresses the near-universal
fear of economic insecurity — a fear that, despite our seeming prosperity,
is only intensifying.

That said, the present financial base of social insurance — payroll
contributions by workers and employers — has essentially maxed out. Nor is
it possible to supplement existing labor income by taxing it. So a 21st
century system of economic security will have to be built on a new
financing model, which I have proposed to be income from common wealth, in
the manner of Thomas Paine and the Alaska Permanent Fund (see With Liberty
and Dividends For All).

Picture, then, a giant “common pot” into which flows money from multiple
forms of common wealth and out of which flow monthly dividends to every
American with a Social Security account. Such a pot could begin, as Social
Security did, with a relatively small inflow and outflow, and grow over
time as Americans become comfortable with it. Its funding sources could
include fees on pollution of shared ecosystems and use of socially
constructed financial infrastructure, as well as new money created in the
manner Mellor proposes.

This system, anchored by the common pot, would serve three functions
simultaneously. First, it would address the pressing need for lifetime
economic security, a need that will only increase as automation and
artificial intelligence replace more jobs. Second, it would create demand
for more revenue sources which, if properly designed, would advance one of
the key goals of the Great Transformation: internalizing the costs of
destabilizing nature. Third and perhaps most importantly, it would supply
the political juice for the first two functions. To paraphrase Mary
Poppins, rising dividends from the common pot would become the sugar that
helps the less palatable transformational pills go down.

In short, three cheers for Mellor’s monetary proposal. And let’s make good
use of it by embedding it in a larger strategy that makes a greater
transformation politically possible.


Peter Barnes
Author, With Liberty and Dividends For All



On Sat, Jul 1, 2017 at 9:31 AM, Great Transition Network wrote:
>From Paul Raskin
Dear GTN,

The old proverb—money is the root of all evil—may overstate the case, but
money is, indeed, implicated in the iniquitous debt/growth spiral now
degrading Earthland.

Mary Mellor explains in her new GTI essay, “Money for the People,” that it
needn’t be so. The modern money system is a social construct that evolved
to spur capital accumulation, but lingers on in an era needing, instead, to
throttle consumerism, debt, and the economic growth machine. Rather than
creating money privately through bank lending, as the current system does,
an alternative approach—public money—can undergird an economy oriented
toward people and use value, not profit and exchange value.

I think you’ll find Mary’s vision of a critical institutional pillar of a
Great Transition economy illuminating, intriguing, and inspiring. Please
read it at www.greattransition.org/publication/money-for-the-people, and
let the comments and questions begin! How would public money work in
practice? How would it interface with the market? How might its pursuit
contribute to strategies for system change?

Comments are welcome through JULY 31.

Looking forward,
Paul Raskin
GTI Director

Odd-numbered months are for internal GT Network discussions; even-numbered
months are for public dissemination. You will receive all comments via
email, and can review the entire thread online at
www.greattransition.org/forum/gti-forum. The essay will be published
alongside a “Roundtable,” comprised of selected comments from the GTN
discussion and a response from the author.

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