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Peter Coyote on The Free Store

Peter Coyote on The Free Store

It is time for the ideas that lead to the creation of The Free Store as a three-year art project in the 1960′s to become the permanent basis of  our society.  Click the link and learn more.  It takes less than 5 minutes.

From: endmoney.infoBy: Kéllia Ramares-WatsonComments

And then he kicked the chair out from underneath his feet

by debbieleft

Thu Aug 19, 2010 at 03:48:12 PM PDT

Dennis Paul and SonHe was a machine operator – a factory man. He spent his whole life employed in the factories that made business forms, water pumps, thermoplastic sheeting. After almost forty years as a dependable American worker, he was tossed aside and discarded from our society. He managed two years unemployed and over a year with only food stamps to help out. It was obvious he had become very ill, lung cancer? We didn’t know. But he was sick, out of money and out of time. Had he called we would have taken him in and helped. But he was a proud man. Yesterday he wrote a note to his children, tied a noose, stepped up on a chair, placed his neck in the noose and kicked the chair out from underneath his feet.

I just got off the phone with his financial advisor, he had mailed a package to each of his children with a few belongings he wanted them to have and a business card of an advisor to call if anything happened to him. He left an annuity to his boys and a small sum for me, his ex-wife. The medical examiner will release the body to the mortuary his boy’s choose and they are welcome to go into his home and take what they wish. His condo is worth $20,000 less than the mortgage so it is going back to the bank.

The note, aside from some private writings, stated all belongings are to go to his two sons – our boys.

His employment ended at the age of 55 in Reno Nevada. By the age of 57 he had been unemployed for over two years. Benefits ran out over a year ago. Food stamps were all he could qualify for. He kept his condo payments up to date by playing blackjack. He was a consistent winner of small bets that allowed him to keep the phone turned on, the light bill paid and the condo payment made. He was barely hanging on when his luck ran out.

The last time we saw him was June. He had taken the bus here to see our youngest graduate from community college. He was very proud, he was also very sick. His hair had fallen out, his eyes were red, his fingernails were clubbed and he was spitting up blood. He had a steady shake in his hands, he looked like hell. I begged him to go to an emergency room and see a doctor. His answer, oddly, was that he had managed to keep his good credit score throughout his unemployment and he didn’t want a big medical bill to screw it up. Besides, he said he may get a diagnosis from an emergency room but he wouldn’t be entitled to treatment.

He did get to see his youngest graduate and he was proud.
Although this story is about the death of one individual, it is also the death of the American way of life for the aging factory employee. Unemployment benefits have run out, there are no more factory jobs and no one is hiring 57 year olds to retrain for new types of employment.

And then there is healthcare. The safety net. The things the conservatives complain about. And there is the reality that those things aren’t really helping many who need the help.

For all the faceless statistics we read every day – I wanted to add a face. A man who loved his sons. A man who got up and went to work everyday. A man society kicked to the curb. And, in turn, a man who felt his best option was to kick the chair out from underneath his feet.
Dennis Paul
10/25/1952 – 8/18/2010
Rest in Peace.
Thank you – everyone – for your kind words.
UPDATE: I have sent a copy of this to Harry Reid’s office with Dennis’ full name and the location of the medical examiner and information to identify the event (so they can verify, if they wish, the correctness of the obituary). Dennis voted for Harry Reid every time he ran for re-election. Dennis lived in Harry Reid’s district for over 20 years. Both our boys were born in Reno. I don’t know if this does any good, but I have tried. I am sure Mr. Reid’s staff could look up Dennis’ unemployment benefits, when they ended and the police report if they felt the need. Not that I believe they will bother at all.
Thank you all.

From: endmoney.infoBy: Kéllia Ramares-WatsonComments

Book Review: The Global Economic Crisis

The Global Economic Crisis: The Great Depression of the XXI Century
Michel Chossudovsky and Andrew Gavin Marshall, Editors
Global Research
ISBN 978-0-9737147-3-9
301 pages; Softcover
$25.95 US $27.95 CAN

by Kéllia Ramares

Orthodox economic theory does not acknowledge the amply documented fact that financial actors can not only influence but actually manipulate the market, make it move in a particular direction…. Economic theory does not address the structural causes of economic collapse…. We are not dealing with a cyclical process; what is at stake is a major dislocation in the financial, trading and productive structures of the global economy.
–Michel Chossudovsky, The Global Economic Crisis, p16 (emphasis in original).

Book Cover: The Global Economic CrisisEarlier this summer, I was invited to attend a brown bag lunch in Berkeley, California, hosted by the Sustainable Economies Law Center. SELC helps urban farmers, worker-owned co-ops, and other social enterprises sort through legal gray areas. The lunch was a discussion about money that had a diverse group of participants who wished to do various things such as “reboot” the financial system, promote individual investments in local food systems (Slow Money Alliance) or abolish monetary systems altogether (The End of Money, my contribution to the discussion). Although most of the discussion was focused on the future, one man was concerned with teaching people how the current system worked.

As he made his point, I drew from my bag a copy of The Global Economic Crisis, and soon was telling the group that this book would do just what that gentleman had just said needed to be done.

But this is not a ordinary book on financial literacy that will tell people about the differences between banks and credit unions, the role credit scores play in our personal lives, or how to access small business financing. This book is a compilation of essays by some of the most socially conscious political and economic minds of our time, including James Petras, Bartle Professor (Emeritus) of Sociology at Binghamton University, New York, and the author of more than 60 books published in 29 languages, Peter Phillips, Professor of Sociology at California State University—Sonoma and director of the Project Censored Awards program, Peter Dale Scott, a former Canadian diplomat and English Professor at the University of California—Berkeley, and renowned researcher of the New World Order, Ellen Brown, author of the best selling book Web of Debt, which examines the inner workings of the Federal Reserve, and Mike Whitney, an independent writer in Washington State, who analyzes the inner workings of Wall Street. .

The Global Economic Crisis describes the big picture, the global macroeconomics that translate into high unemployment, massive foreclosures, drastic cuts in local governmental services, and bankruptcy for millions of individuals, and businesses large and small, worldwide. And the understanding of economics at the global level, not how to open a checking account or how to shop for an auto loan, is the financial literacy the public needs most.

The book, which is divided to five parts, starts with a 58-page history lesson by editor Michel Chossudovsky, professor emeritus in economics at the University of Ottawa. The essay explains why the global economy is in the dire shape it is in now, and who is responsible. That essay alone is worth the price of the book because it makes clear that any notion of an “invisible hand” that guides the marketplace to equilibrium in the absence of government interference by taxation and regulation is a myth. Any invisible hands in the marketplace bear the fingerprints of the big investment banks, merchant banks and hedge fund managers, and they have their thumbs on the scale.

The description of the current situation continues in Parts IV and V, titled The Global Monetary System and The Shadow Banking System, respectively. Read Ellen Brown’s essay “Wall Street’s Ponzi Scheme” and Mike Whitney’s essay “Securitization: the Biggest Rip-Off Ever” that close the book and you will be hoping, if you don’t already, that orange jumpsuits become the new fashion statement among the financial elite.

Between Chossudovsky’s opening essay and the last two parts of the book, the contributors link the manipulative behavior of “the powers that be” to other major problems in the economy and society at large. For example: In one of the six essays that make up Part I, “Globalization and Neoliberalism: Is there an alternative to plundering the earth?” Claudia von Werlhof, professor of Women’s Studies at the Institute of Political Science in Innsbruck, Austria observes that under neoliberal economic policy “[s]ocial, cultural, traditional and ecological considerations are abandoned and give way to a mentality of plundering. All global resources that we still have – natural resources, forests, water, genetic pools – have turned into objects of utilization. Rapid ecological destruction through depletion is the consequence.”

Chossudovsky and Phillips take on the subjects of the global economy, poverty and social inequality in Part II. Six authors take up the interconnection between the current global economy and “War, National Security and World Government” in Part III.

In total there are 20 essays in this book, each with end-notes and if necessary, graphs, tables and sidebars to bring home the point: The world’s real economies, and with them the quality of our lives and environment, are being destroyed by the handful of people and institutions running the Wall Street casino. Yet The Global Economic Crisis doesn’t read like a dry textbook. My biggest problem in reading it on the train ride I most frequently made between Oakland and Berkeley, California, was that the ride was too short to let me settle in with the book.

The Global Economic Crisis should be translated into all languages, be made the standard textbook in all introductory economics classes, and be available in all libraries and bookstores. Young people, especially, should read it as soon as they are able to understand the concepts. The Global Economic Crisis is THE most important book of our time because it teaches us how the current global financial system works, and that knowledge will serve as the impetus for the major changes we need to build just, peaceful and prosperous societies on an ecologically flourishing planet.

From: endmoney.infoBy: Kéllia Ramares-WatsonComments

The Great Decoupling of Corporate Profits from Jobs


Original Content at

July 27, 2010

By Robert Reich

Second-quarter earnings reports are coming in, and they’re making Wall Street smile. Corporate profits are up. And big American companies are sitting on a gigantic pile of money. The 500 largest non-financial firms held almost a trillion dollars in the second quarter, and that money pile is growing larger this quarter. Profits that plummeted in the recession have bounced back. Big businesses have recovered almost 90 percent of what they lost.

So with all this money and profit, they’ll start hiring again, right? Wrong for three reasons.

First, lots of their profits are coming from their overseas operations. So that’s where they’re investing and expanding production.

GM now sells more cars in China than it does in the US, but makes most of them there. The company now employs 32,000 hourly workers in China. But only 52,000 GM hourly workers remain in the United States down from 468,000 in 1970.

GM isn’t just hiring low-tech assembly workers in China. Last week the firm broke ground there on a $250 million advanced technology center to develop batteries and other alternative energy sources.

You and I and other American taxpayers still own over 60 percent of GM. We bought GM to save GM jobs, remember?

GM officials say no American taxpayer money is being used to expand in China. But money is fungible. Because of our generosity, GM can now use the dollars it doesn’t have to spend in the United States meeting its American payrolls and repaying its creditors, for new investments in China.

Second, big U.S. businesses are investing their cash in labor-saving technologies. This boosts their productivity, but not their payrolls.

Last Friday, for example, Ford reported a $2.6 billion second-quarter profit. The firm is already more than two-thirds the way to equaling its record 1999 profits. But due to labor-saving technologies, Ford now has half as many employees as it did a decade ago.

Wall Street analysts are happy with Ford’s “commitment to keeping capacity in check,” according to the Wall Street Journal. Ford shares rose 5.2 percent Friday. “Keeping capacity in check” is the Street’s way of saying “no new hiring.” In fact, the Street is advising investors to sell the stocks of companies that talk openly of expanding capacity.

Finally, corporations are using their pile of money to pay dividends to their shareholders and buy back their own stock thereby pushing up share prices.

Last Friday, GE announced it would raise its dividend by 20 percent and reinstate its share-buyback plan. It’s GE’s first dividend increase since the company cut its dividend in early 2009. As a result, GE shares are up more than 5% in the past few days.

Bottom line: Higher corporate profits no longer lead to higher employment.We’re witnessing a great decoupling of company profits from jobs.

The next supply-side economist who tells you companies need more incentive (i.e. lower taxes) before they’ll hire is living on another planet.

The reality is this: Big American companies may never rehire large numbers of workers. And they won’t even begin to think about hiring until they know American consumers will buy their products. The problem is, American consumers won’t start buying against until they know they have reliable paychecks.

Author’s Website:

Author’s Bio: Robert Reich is Professor of Public Policy at the University of California at Berkeley. He has served in three national administrations, most recently as secretary of labor under President Bill Clinton. He has written twelve books, including “The Work of Nations,” “Locked in the Cabinet,” and his most recent book, “Supercapitalism.” His “Marketplace” commentaries can be found on and iTunes.

From: endmoney.infoBy: Kéllia Ramares-WatsonComments

The Free Market Myth

By Kéllia Ramares

Feb 23 2010 — Earlier this month Liar-in-Chief Barack Obama, aka the Black Bush, compared the CEOs of Goldman Sachs and JP Morgan Chase to pro-athletes in telling Bloomberg Business Week that while the $17 million bonus Chase’s Jamie Dimon received was “an extraordinary amount of money, “there are some baseball players who are making more than that and don’t get to the World Series either I, like most of the American people, don’t begrudge people success or wealth. That is part of the free-market system.”

I’m a big baseball fan, and while I think major league players are overpaid compared to the rest of us, I’m not going to go on about how inappropriate in so many ways that comparison was. Philadelphia Area journalist Dave Lindorff, a Phillies fan, explained all of that in an article titled “Mr. President: Bankers and Pro Athletes are Fundamentally Different”.

Rather, I take issue with the idea of “the free-market system”. Once you get much beyond your local farmers’ market, the so-called free market is a myth, and would be a myth even if government were completely out of the picture as the extremist, social Darwinist, Machiavellian, neocon, Chicago-school type selfish bastards want.

I was an economics major in college and the characteristics of different types of markets were among the first things I was taught. The free market, or free enterprise system, is characterized by economists as having many buyers and sellers, so that no one is dominating the market on either side. So the banking industry, where 4 Big Banks have about 50 percent of American deposits, does not qualify as a free market. Neither does Big Oil: a cartel such as OPEC is the antithesis of a free market. We may start out with many sellers in an industry, but power has a tendency not only to corrupt but to aggregate. With time, the merger and acquisition game destroys this free market characteristic.

The goods sold in a free market are fungible. Meaning that your peanuts or fish or bushel of No. 10 Durham wheat has the same characteristics and functionality as mine. Since they’re all about the same, they should be priced about the same. The buyers’ decisions as to which seller to buy from are based on things such as convenience of location, quality of customer service or availability of the desired amount. Not every player can throw a football like Drew Brees or hit a baseball like Albert Pujols or shoot a basketball like LeBron James, so pro sports don’t fit the free market definition either.

Perfect information, meaning that buyers and sellers know the same thing, is another free market characteristic. All the buyers and sellers in the farmers’ market can easily determine what the prices are. Insider trading in stocks or, in exclusivity agreements, publishing, and the pricing of information so that some interested parties cannot afford it, are free market No-Nos, because they all work to serve a special subsection of the market differently from the rest.

Free Market is also characterized by free entry and exit of capital and labor into and out of the marketplace. And here is where the Free Market is really proven to be a fairy tale. In the modern day, technological, legal, and credit requirements make it difficult if not impossible for would be sellers to enter a marketplace. For example, if you are a person of modest means who has an idea for an invention, but no venture capital to help you prototype your device, or legal help to get you through the patent office maze, you haven’t a snowball’s chance in hell of seeing your idea become a product on the shelves of a store.

But more importantly, the notion of free movement of labor is a myth and always has been. From the first slaves, through the laws of post-Black Death Europe that were designed to limit the movement of workers to keep wages down, to today’s debt burdens and dependence upon employment for health care access, workers seldom have the freedom to exit the marketplace. And in today’s economy of high unemployment and underemployment, they don’t have the freedom to enter, either.

The owning classes realized this long before capitalism, and have always sought to reduce the circumstances of labor through need and fear in order to maintain control of it. This is why, today, so many of us are in jobs we put up with for the sake of the money even though the conditions are bad in some way or another. This is why unemployed people are often willing to take any job available. And this is why people’s demands of government for more jobs is actually counterproductive in terms of both filling peoples’ needs and creating justice.

Supply and Demand GraphAnd that’s because of another thing the professors taught me in first semester economics — the price and supply graph. Price is along the Y or vertical axis, and supply is along the X or horizontal axis. The graph shows that the higher the price of anything, the lower the supply, and conversely, the lower the price of anything, the more of that thing there is– think jobs for major league starting pitchers on the high end and fast food burger flippers on the low end. So if there are more jobs at lower wages – the big argument that gets trotted out every time there is an attempt to raise the minimum wage – it stands to reason that there are infinite jobs available at zero wages – and indeed there are more volunteer jobs available than people to fill them.

In other words, we would all find something to do if we didn’t need the money.

As a practical matter, people can’t “earn a living” at zero wages, but the owning class likes to keep wages down as much as possible, be it through salary caps in sports to union contracts full of concessions and givebacks, to the de-skilling of labor through technology so as to make people fungible and thus easily replaced by others who won’t be so demanding.

The desire for more jobs by the laboring class is at odds with the desire of the owning class to maintain a pool of surplus labor as leverage. For example, I once worked for a specialty publisher that underwent “downsizing” in the early ’90′s. I was one of the downsized but got work with them as a contractor, meaning I was doing the same work that I was doing in-house, only now for no benefits. The arrangement gave me more scheduling freedom so it was fine for a while. I was in my early 30′s, in good health and not thinking about retirement. But after three years of working at the same pay rate while prices around me were increasing, I asked for a raise. I got a letter saying that market realities were such that there were other people waiting to do the same work at the current rate so I would not get a raise.

Forget the free market. That assumes a level playing field that has never existed. Politicians who act as though we have a free market are lying. The “free marketeers” who call for less government involvement in the markets only want that insofar as it allows them to do want they damned well please no matter what it does to other people or to the environment. Dog-eat dog, survival of the fittest, your rights end where my money begins, selfish greed is their game — until they need tax cuts and bailouts so they can give themselves bonuses to “incentivize” them to stay on the job. They are the ones most in need of a pink slip and better able to deal with one than the rest of us.

One way or another the economy is collapsing here and around the world. Lets bring it down on our terms. There are nonviolent ways of doing this.

But until then, stop buying into the myth the free market and ask yourselves some questions: Why must we pay to live on the planet we were born on? Why do we have to earn a living, aren’t we already living? We are all born of woman, naked and helpless, we all put on our pants one leg at a time, and, rich or poor, we all die. Look at it that way and it should be self-evident as Thomas Jefferson said, that all men (and women) are created equal. So who the hell is anyone else on this planet that we should have to be profitable to them to get our survival needs met?

From: endmoney.infoBy: Kéllia Ramares-WatsonComments

U.S. Economy Grinds To Halt As Nation Realizes Money Just A Symbolic, Mutually Shared Illusion

– The Onion February 16, 2010 | ISSUE 46•07

WASHINGTON—The U.S. economy ceased to function this week after unexpected existential remarks by Federal Reserve chairman Ben Bernanke shocked Americans into realizing that money is, in fact, just a meaningless and intangible social construct.

Calling it “basically no more than five rectangular strips of paper,” Fed chairman Ben Bernanke illustrates how much “$200″ is actually worth.

What began as a routine report before the Senate Finance Committee Tuesday ended with Bernanke passionately disavowing the entire concept of currency, and negating in an instant the very foundation of the world’s largest economy.

“Though raising interest rates is unlikely at the moment, the Fed will of course act appropriately if we…if we…” said Bernanke, who then paused for a moment, looked down at his prepared statement, and shook his head in utter disbelief. “You know what? It doesn’t matter. None of this—this so-called ‘money’—really matters at all.”

“It’s just an illusion,” a wide-eyed Bernanke added as he removed bills from his wallet and slowly spread them out before him. “Just look at it: Meaningless pieces of paper with numbers printed on them. Worthless.”

According to witnesses, Finance Committee members sat in thunderstruck silence for several moments until Sen. Orrin Hatch (R-UT) finally shouted out, “Oh my God, he’s right. It’s all a mirage. All of it—the money, our whole economy—it’s all a lie!”

Screams then filled the Senate Chamber as lawmakers and members of the press ran for the exits, leaving in their wake aisles littered with the remains of torn currency.

U.S. markets closed as traders left their jobs and resolved for once to do or make something, anything of real value.

As news of the nation’s collectively held delusion spread, the economy ground to a halt, with dumbfounded citizens everywhere walking out on their jobs as they contemplated the little green drawings of buildings and dead white men they once used to measure their adequacy and importance as human beings.

At the New York Stock Exchange, Wednesday morning’s opening bell echoed across a silent floor as the few traders who arrived for work out of habit looked up blankly at the meaningless scrolling numbers on the flashing screens above.

“I’ve spent 25 years in this room yelling ‘Buy, buy! Sell, sell!’ and for what?” longtime trader Michael Palermo said. “All I’ve done is move arbitrary designations of wealth from one column to another, wasting my life chasing this unattainable hallucination of wealth.”

“What a cruel cosmic joke,” he added. “I’m going home to hug my daughter.”

Sources at the White House said President Obama was “still trying to get his head around all this” and was in seclusion with his coin collection, muttering “it’s just metal, it’s just metal” over and over again.

“The president will be making a statement very soon,” press secretary Robert Gibbs told reporters. “At the moment, though, his mind is just too blown to comment.”

A few U.S. banks have remained open, though most teller windows are unmanned due to a lack of interest in transactions involving mere scraps of paper or, worse, decimal points and computer data signifying mere scraps of paper. At a Bank of America branch in Spokane, WA, curious former customers wandered aimlessly through a large empty vault, while several would-be robbers of a Chase bank in Columbus, OH reportedly put their guns down and exited the building hand in hand with security guards, laughing over the inherent absurdity of the idea of $100 bills.

Likewise, the real estate industry has all but vanished, with mortgage lenders seeing no reason to stop people from reclaiming their foreclosed-upon homes.

“I don’t even know what we were thinking in the first place,” said former banker Nathan Collins of Brandon, MS, as he jimmied open a door to allow a single mother and her five children to move back into their house. “A bunch of people sign a bunch of papers, and now this family has no place to live? That’s just plain ludicrous.”

The realization that money is nothing more than an elaborate head game seems to have penetrated the entire country: In Wilmington, DE, for instance, a collection agent reportedly broke down in joyful sobs when he informed a woman on the other end of the phone that he had absolutely no reason to harass her anymore, as her Discover Card debt was no longer comprehensible.

For some Americans, the fog of disbelief surrounding the nation’s epiphany has begun to lift, with many building new lives free from the illusion of money.

“It’s back to basics for me,” Bernard Polk of Waverly, OH said. “I’m going to till the soil for my own sustenance and get anything else I need by bartering. If I want milk, I’ll pay for it in tomatoes. If need a new hoe, I’ll pay for it in lettuce.”

When asked, hypothetically, how he would pay for complicated life-saving surgery for a loved one, Polk seemed uncertain.

“That’s a lot of vegetables, isn’t it?” he said.

From: endmoney.infoBy: Kéllia RamaresComments


DestinationDIYOne way you can lessen your dependence on money is to “do-it-yourself”. Many activities, from cooking, designing and making your own clothes, and fixing cars and bikes, to making your own entertainment and media can be DIY projects.

And doing it yourself does not necessarily mean doing it alone. Many projects can be done with family, friends, neighbors, co-workers, church groups, etc. Some projects definitely need more than one person.

DIY can save money, be eco-friendly, and introduce you to new people and activities.

Julie Sabatier, of Portland, OR, is the producer of Destination DIY, a web site, a Facebook page and lately a series on Oregon Public Radio. She was part of my Broadcaster At-Large Internet series. Take a listen here. The program might inspire you to “do it yourself.”

From: endmoney.infoBy: Kéllia RamaresComments

Interest, not fiat currency, is the real trouble with money

by Kéllia Ramares

The current economic crisis is bringing monetary reform movements such as End The Fed, to the fore. These movements bring to light what is wrong with our current monetary system, i.e., it is the instrument by which people are held in debt slavery.

But these movements often call for a return to the backing of paper money with gold and silver. In other words, that we should be able to redeem our paper money for gold and silver – though I can’t think of why we would want to do that; gold and silver are too heavy to carry around. No more paper currency should be in circulation than can be backed by precious metal, according to the proponents of “real money.”

Soft Soap by Thimas NastBut returning to a gold/silver standard for currency will not stabilize our economy. The real problem with our currency is not its fiat nature. Gold and silver are themselves fiat currencies. Long ago, certain cultures decided that these metals were valuable and could be used to transact business. Cultures that did not have access to these metals used something else: shells, feathers, rocks, etc., to facilitate exchange. The decree of some ancient king to use gold and silver as currency is just as much a fiat as the decision of the US Government to use Federal Reserve Notes. We just don’t consider gold and silver as fiat currency because the decision to use them as currency was made millennia ago. The value of gold and silver is a fundamental assumption, part of our “racial memory” that we do not question. But there is nothing in the natural order of the world that decrees that these metals are valuable. It is only an ancient consensus, still honored, that makes them so. Thomas Nast, the great 19th century American political cartoonist, and a “hard money” enthusiast, was right when he drew a picture saying that Congress could declare soft soap to be the currency. Indeed, if Ancient Greece and Rome had made such declarations, I wonder what we would be washing ourselves with today.

The trouble with money is interest. Ancient religions forbade interest—Islam still retains that proscription—they saw time as a gift from God. But that consensus broke down and interest as a payment for the time a lender would be without his money came into being. Interest is what has made every business transaction into one of debt. It also requires the world’s economy to be in a state of permanent growth because growth is needed to expand the money supply in order to pay back loans PLUS interest. If there were no interest and people with surplus money loaned it to those who needed it, the repayment would simply be the return of the sum loaned and the money supply would not need to grow just so that each loan can be repaid with interest. This is not unheard of; it’s something friends do amongst each other.

As the foes of fiat currency correctly point out, increasing the money supply decreases the value of each dollar in circulation. They would propose to limit inflationary increases in the money supply by tying paper currency to the limited supply of gold and silver. But that could cause the problem of needlessly restraining real growth because of an insufficient money supply. I say, attack the problem of inflation at the taproot by abolishing interest. (A way to eliminate interest and still provide incentive for money to circulate is the focus of the book “Interest and Inflation Free Money: Creating an exchange medium that works for everybody and protects the earth” by Margrit Kennedy. Click the link for a FREE pdf copy).

The need to always grow the economy to pay interest is unsustainable. No system grows forever. The linear view of the Universe is not natural. Nature operates in circles and spirals, not in straight lines. The human hubris that we have dominion over the earth and can subdue it is folly. Mother Nature bats last. We are playing on her field.

And Her game is about resource depletion–not just oil, but other resources, such as potable water–brought about by a species that thinks that infinite growth on a finite planet is possible and desirable. Interest is how that species puts its belief into action.

Ecology and economy are two words that come from the same root. We must remember this whenever we hear politicians say that we can’t take certain measures to protect the environment because they will hurt the economy. Without the environment there is no economy. Therefore, we must abandon the belief in the possibility and desirability of infinite growth. We must also abandon the demand for compensation for every instance of use of anything valuable that we possess including and especially time. (Contrast the copyright battles over usage of one digital product across several pieces of equipment with the way you freely share time and resources with your social circle). Once we abandon those old ways of thinking, the wisdom of eliminating interest, which is based on those old ways, will be self-evident.

And what will happen to the people who make their living from lending at interest? I say to them what the working class has been told time and again in the face of outsourcing: RETRAIN.

Of course, the elimination of interest is only one step toward what should be the ultimate goal: the elimination of money. That, too, can be accomplished with a massive change of thinking leading to a new consensus that no longer supports monetary systems. But for now, one thing at a time.

From: endmoney.infoBy: Kéllia RamaresComments

Book Review: Low-Wage Capitalism

Low-Wage Capitalism: What the new globalized, high tech imperialism means for the class struggle in the US today.

By Fred Goldstein
World View Forum
ISBN 0-89567-151-4
312 Pages, Softcover
$19.95 USD or available free online at

by Kéllia Ramares

Book Cover: Low-Wage CapitalismWith the corporate capitalist economy falling apart as it is, some people are looking at socialism with a less jaundiced eye. Of course, there are some people for whom socialism was never the spawn of Satan that banksters and other corporate cutthroats and their political minions would have us believe. One of these people is Marxist author Fred Goldstein, who was inspired as a college student to become a Marxist by the Cuban revolution. Goldstein, a contributing editor to the newspaper Workers’ World, has demonstrated, in the book Low-Wage Capitalism, that Marxist economic theory is alive and well in the post-Soviet era. In fact, Marxist theory provides an excellent analytical tool for explaining the failures of globalized capitalism to provide a decent way of life for the world’s people.

The book looks at major developments in the past three decades which have led us to the current crisis. In considering the growth of the available world labor force, Goldstein shows that 19th Century Marxist theory can be applied to a world very different from that in which the theory was born. A world in which more women and people of color are in the labor force still operates according to Marx’s law of wages. Just add sexism and racism to the various ways the bosses exploit labor.

The essence of this book, however, is Goldstein’s analysis of the role that technology plays in the exploitation of labor. Technology has its own chapter in the book, but it is a recurring theme in other chapters. Technology, which should make life and work easier and safer for workers, is instead used to reduce the labor force, so that the unemployed and underemployed compete with the employed, thus keeping a downward pressure on wages. Technology is also used to “de-skill” jobs, making workers more fungible. This way, workers who are being too “troublesome” in their demands for higher wages or union representation can be more easily replaced.

Economic conditions have gotten desperate, says Goldstein, despite the fact that more families have at least two earners. He explains the decline as inevitable, given the way capitalism works. Goldstein amply demonstrates the decline with statistics, graphs and reports without getting overly academic. This is a book one could easily read on the train or bus to work.

Goldstein believes that the workers need to do something on the political front to change things. He argues for more understanding on the part of workers of the existence of class differences and the need for class struggle. This is where the book left me a bit dissatisfied because the argument is for an old way of doing things: a class struggle or “war”, if you will. There are definitely class differences in this country, and the overwhelming majority of workers end up in the class in which they were born or lower, despite the myth of upward mobility. Goldstein makes an excellent point in saying that people who believe that they are in the owning class because they own a business or are middle managers in a large corporation have to realize that they have more in common with the employees under them than with the bosses above them. (Owners of Chrysler dealerships that were recently terminated, even if they were profitable, should take heed!)

Workers would be will served by having a greater understanding of labor history, including the recent history of resistance to the demands for cutbacks and concessions, because the study of history is useful to any political movement. But people like me, who are having trouble with the idea that the paradigm of struggle rather than cooperation is still useful as a change mechanism–struggle is still a necessary defensive tactic–may have problems digesting the last part of the book.

Perhaps I am having trouble with this approach because I believe that our environmental crises will force everyone, even the bosses, to understand that we have only one planet, we all live on it together and even gated communities will not protect the ultra-wealthy from environmental devastation. The book makes no mention of environmental issues, and for me, that was a glaring omission. I don’t believe that any serious political change can be made without factoring the environment into the economic analysis. In a radio interview I conducted with Goldstein several months ago, he expressed concern for the environment, explained how socialism was the answer to our environmental problems, and wondered how capitalists could devastate the environment as they have; after all, ecology and economy come from the same root. I wish he had brought that viewpoint to bear in the book.

Still, Low-Wage Capitalism provides an excellent analysis of the current economic situation. Whether or not you believe in the value of class struggle a key to a better future, it is worth reading for its look at the way things are now.

CC 2009, Kéllia Ramares BY-NC-SA

The radio interview is available for download here.

From: endmoney.infoBy: Kéllia RamaresComments