Did banks apply for a patent to use money?

new-nz-moneySo is money part of the commons?

Money is a clever human invention designed to be a medium of exchange. Everyone agrees to accept money because they know that other people trust it too. Unfortunately many centuries ago, governments started to accept bank credit as money. And when they accepted bank money for taxes, they either consciously or unconsciously gave banks a patent banks didn’t apply for or pay for. Nor did they check whether the invention was a working model. If they had done so they would never have granted the patent.

So we somehow allowed money to be lent into circulation with interest, causing a competitive system and a scarcity mentality where some amount of bankruptcy is inevitable. What’s more the patent had no termination date.

Banks continue this privilege of creating the country’s money supply (in the case of New Zealand it is at least 98.5% of our total money supply). So we gave banks the monopoly on money creation, didn’t tell the people and didn’t charge the banks a bean.

Green Capitalism The God that Failed

Richard Smith, an economic historian, has written an amazing article which I have only just discovered, (thanks to the wonderful people on our Facebook group).

He comprehensively dismisses green capitalism, as recommended by people like Paul Hawken and Amory Lovins. He says green growth is a completely blind alley, a God that failed. You can't shop your way to sustainability.

He describes scary scenarios for a four degrees global warming, notes the lack of progress on reducing emissions over two decades and concludes that there is something wrong with capitalism itself. "From Kyoto to Cancun, governments have all made it abundantly clear that they will not sacrifice growth today to save the planet tomorrow."

Cap and trade usually gets watered down. This is because there is such a huge range of occupations that negatively affected by it that the lobby opposing it is too broad and too powerful. The theory was nice. The cap was supposed to come down over time, but industry lobbyists in Germany badgered the government for higher caps and special exemptions of all sorts. "They warned of unemployment, threatened to pack up and leave Germany and so on.  In the end governments caved." So in the market solution – cap and trade – profits ended up with the polluters and traders.  He says even carbon taxes when implemented can never be set at high enough levels to make a difference. And it makes no difference if it is revenue neutral or not.

Smith writes,"But the problem is not just special interests, lobbyists and corruption. And courageous political leaders could not turn the situation around. Because that's not the problem. The problem is capitalism.....There is no way to cut CO2 emissions by anything like 90 percent without imposing drastic cuts across the board in industrial production. Because we live under capitalism, not socialism, no one is promising new jobs to all those coal miners, oil drillers, gas frackers, power plant operators, farmers and fertilizer manufacturers, loggers and builders, auto builders, truck drivers, airplane builders, airline pilots and crews and countless other occupations whose jobs would be at risk if fossil fuel use were really seriously curtailed."

This book reminded me of Naomi Klein's This Changes Everything in that it clearly states the problem is capitalism.

The article was written two years ago. During the last eighteen months the price of oil has declined 70% and now hundreds of thousands of oil workers have lost their jobs. Soup kitchens in Aberdeen are feeding former oil workers and tens of thousands of jobs continue to be lost in Alberta and North Dakota and Texas alone. In Nigeria 120,000 jobs have been lost. This month the New York Times put the global figure at 250,000 jobs lost. Meanwhile, and connected with this, the global economy is under severe threat of a complete meltdown, and central banks clamber to find yet another way to calm the markets, always by injecting more debt into the system.

So what answers does Smith come up with? He offers eco-socialism. A quick look at their website indicates they would nationalise the fossil fuel industry and the industries that are heavily based on them which means the auto industry, aircraft and airlines, petrochemicals, and so on.

So while it is wonderful to see Richard Smith facing the political realities of climate change, overconsumption, waste and pollution, there is another step or two he could take. He could ask, "And is there something structurally in the system that has demanded this incessant growth? Is growth written into the system? Which system? And if so can that be reformed?" Now Richard Smith may know this. I wonder if he also knows you have to transform the land tenure system if you change the money system, since the first reform demands the second. When you know about the money system you often wish you didn't – that you could put the genie back in the bottle, so to speak. The corporates, as TPP has shown us, are more powerful than ever before in history and that changes the political landscape and our strategies. Few centralised solutions are now politically possible.

In our movement we have been struggling for over four years to work out some politically viable solution to our massive global problems. Maybe nationalising all these industries doesn't get to the bottom of the problem. We need elegant, more lasting solutions.

Anyway his article is superb as far as it goes. He also has a book of that name.
http://www.worldeconomicsassociation.org/downloads/green-capitalism-the-god-that-failed/ is the e-book

And here’s a review of the book: http://www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/31959-book-review-green-capitalism-the-god-that-failed

New Economics Party to have Unconference in Otaki

The following media statement has gone out today 17 May 15 About 20-25 people will be gathering in Otaki over Queens Birthday weekend for an “unconference” on designing a thriving post fossil fuel economy. Spokesperson Deirdre Kent said the group has been meeting online for three years and wants to design an economy that obeys the laws of Nature. She said one of their floated ideas was to have the Community Board or an elected Community Land Trust acquire a growing parcel of land and to share the rents as a Citizens Dividend. “Sharing the rents from the exclusive use of the commons is a fundamental policy for equity. Inequality between the landless and the others can only be addressed this way,” she said. The group is also keen on publicly created money, issued without debt or interest. “What we would like to see is a currency spent into existence by Community Boards to buy land and for that currency to be accepted by Council for rates and fees. Eventually we believe that Government would accept it for taxes when they want to share the revenue. There will be a Skype link on Friday night with London economics Professor Steve Keen on the current risks to the global economy, and another to Melbourne on Saturday with Karl Fitzgerald who has studied the possible rental income from the monopoly use of the commons in Australia, enough to replace deadweight taxes. Paekakariki feminist economist Prue Hyman will speak on the need for a Basic Income on Saturday. “Manufacturing and jobs and affordable housing will come naturally when we address fundamental invisible structures like currency design and the tax and welfare systems”, she said. Ms Kent said they expected to have a very stimulating weekend using open space discussion. Conference information

Punitive welfare legislation shows up need for Citizens Dividend or Basic Income

The new legislation against relationship fraud shows we are overdue to move to a Citizens Dividend, handed out unconditionally to individuals, according to the New Economics Party.

Spokesperson Deirdre Kent said the Bill, supported by both National and Labour, just highlights the need for a payment to all citizens where there is no asset testing, no means testing and no prying into the bedrooms of the citizens.

The legislation that would make both parties in a relationship responsible for welfare fraud will only result in tears. “Blaming and punishing doesn’t work and costs heaps in administration.”

“Everyone in our society has probably known someone that has defrauded the Social Welfare Department. The whole benefit set-up just invites beneficiaries to deceive WINZ because a couple gets more income if they live separately. We need a system where there is no financial benefit for those pretending to live apart. Our current targeted welfare system is no way to build a society which claims to value intimacy, honesty and strong families”, she said.

She said the New Economics Party wanted an unconditional Citizens Dividend for all individuals that was not means tested, asset tested or work tested. She said they believe that the benefits of the commons – land and the natural resources should be shared equally and this is a way of introducing an unconditional citizens income, small at first but growing.

She said New Zealand had three precedents for unconditional payouts. In 1948 every household was given a dividend because we had a particularly good wool cheque that year. The second was the Universal Family Benefit that existed from 1946 to 1991 when family support became targeted. The third was in 1977 when the unconditional National superannuation was paid to all over 65 without asset or income testing.

“British Columbia imposes a carbon tax and redistributed the revenue to all citizens and this is a popular policy.”

New Paradigm economics for jobs in a post fossil fuel economy

I have uploaded a revised version of the slideshow on new paradigm economics. This is similar to the first one, yet addresses the question of how you get a financial incentive built in to an opt in scheme. It also comes after realisation that an opt in scheme will need to operate under current law. Homeowners will negotiate a land fee payable to government and agree under contract law. We no longer talk of leasehold land, though it is rather similar. This one suggests we burden the title with a covenant while the title remains with the property owner. The other change is that we are not referring to Zeals but are talking about a tradeable tax credit. We don't use the term land rental or land rent much, but talk about a land fee or land rates. These terms indicate more accurately that the fee is payable in exchange for the value provided by society in the services to the site. We have also returned to the idea we had in the first place, that of mortgage relief. If the government pays for the land and effectively takes land out of the market, then the homeowner's interest payments to the bank reduce while they have some precious new currency to spend. It naturally flows towards productive enterprise or the relief of more private debt e.g. student loans. So it is an ideal policy for first home buyers. Since posting it, I have realised only one more thing. The land fee will rise or fall depending on the zoning of the land.

Why not do monetary reform then land tax reform?

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What is your solution?

One of the questions we often get asked is why not do monetary reform first and then do other things later.

Positive Money NZ and its parent in UK have done wonderful work in teaching about the dysfunctional money system. There is no doubting that. They are reaching a wide range of people and describing what is wrong with the money system, how it leads to growing debt, wealth disparity and the growth imperative. We really recommend going to their website and seeing all the wonderful youtube videos and articles and links there. It is a great website.

But when we are in a political party we need to aim to get a thriving economy and that means jobs.

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Untaxing labour and sales is like unblocking a currency river

And when we think of where the money flows and why it doesn't flow into job creation if you fix the money system, we also need to think about the tax system.  Our party says it is time to untax labour and sales and to tax land and its resources. When we do this, all sorts of miracles occur.

Imagine having a currency where completely new rules apply. When using this new currency there is no tax on labour, sales or enterprise. No income tax, no GST and no company tax when using this money. Wow! What happens? Well employers realise that workers get 100% of their salary so they have a happy workforce. But that is not the end. When the workers spend their money they won't have to pay GST. This is that they have more purchasing power. Their wages are higher now in relation to the prices of goods. And that is what unions have been crying out for for ages.

So it is like having the river bed carved out for a new currency. The new money flows in the riverbed unimpeded by taxes. So it flows into productive investment and creates jobs.

We have proposed the slow introduction of a parallel national currency created by a new agency (the Treasury) which adheres to these rules. The slideshow for this is now at http://www.slideshare.net/deirdrekent/sustainable-economics-without-fossil-fuels-21

Of course having argued that it is important to treat the global economic system as a living system and that we need to intervene where the effect is greatest, and having argued that the global economy is what Cantabrians would call 'mega-munted' and that you need to start again, people still come back saying Couldn't we just have monetary reform for a start.

Yes I know a lot of people just want us to do the monetary reform and do the rest later. But what happens? Yes money is spent into existence rather than lent into existence so it doesn't bear a debt and it has no interest due either. All good. But where does it go? With GST and income tax and company tax, it will of course go into buying up yet more property and naturally occurring assets, putting pressure on the limited resource of land and raising its price. And as before, the wealth concentrates with land owners.

Q. I thought you wanted to close the gap between rich and poor?

A. Oh yes we will do that now, we will impose a land tax.

Q. Well how are you going to do that?

A. Well we will start at 0.5% land tax and lower income tax a little across the board at the same time. That way we won't shock the economy.

Q. But I am still paying my rates and my mortgage. Why should I pay a third land tax?

A. Oh I don't know.

And there is stops. If there is another way, please would someone tell us about it! In all the time we have had this initiative up and running, nobody has come out with an alternative solution other than by starting again with a second national currency differently designed.

If you can come up with a suggestion which is better than the dual currency, we would be pleased to hear from you.

The challenge of sharing the use of the commons by tax policy

Recently a friend who was writing a document for an organisation who is planning a new New Zealand asked me for a brief contribution on the commons.  Here is what I sent him: Nature has provided the land we live on. This is the Commons we share by birth and everyone alive should have an equal right to access their share of the Commons. But everyone can’t occupy the same piece of land. Those, therefore, who use the best land should compensate the rest of us for the privilege they enjoy. Henry George, Pierre-Joseph Proudon, Silvio Gesell and even Winston Churchill argued that work should be untaxed and the monopoly use of land should be taxed. The rise in land value as a result of government built infrastructure, the arrival of shops and businesses and organisations should be publicly captured. This income should be shared by all levels of government and some redistributed as a Citizens Dividend. The tax on land value is simple and cannot be evaded as you can’t hide land. The problem these days is finding a politically acceptable method of doing this. Property owners already pay a mortgage and rates and won’t accept a third payment on their land. Moreover it is the banks who capture a significant part of the rise in land value. Yet we must face this political challenge. The gap between rich and poor will keep widenening when we have a tax policy which favours landowners who reap unearned profit. Other parts of the commons should also be shared. Private enterprise should not include private ownership of the elements of life. Everyone by right should have access to land, water, airwaves, fisheries, minerals, electromagnetic spectrum, any public utility such as a port, airport or the monopolistic rights to reticulate wires, pipes, roads and rails. The principle is that we should pay for what we hold or take but not for what we do or make.