Friday, July 21, 2006


Austin Car Share

Austin Car Share kicks off at 11am on Monday at the Plaza at Austin City Hall. There is a $10 monthly fee plus $4/hour of use and 44 cents per mile. At first that may sound steep, but it includes gas, insurance and maintenance. Here is KVUE coverage.

Visualize no more trips to the mechanic.

Wednesday, July 12, 2006


Intentional Economics Day 3

I was doing okay with the nightly blogging until the last day. I'm going to finish it up today, though. On Monday, I hiked with a couple from Pittsburgh who also stayed an extra day. Later, I walked down the pedestrian mall to a fantastic used bookstore and picked up four books. I slept the entire flight back to Austin arriving at midnight. Lewis picked me up and on the ride back we talked about a remarkable story Bernard told in the last hour about Francisco de Orellana. Lewis spent some time in the jungles of Brazil in January.

If I had picked up the Sunday New York Times on Day 3, this is what I would have read from Ben Stein:
Is this America, where far too many of the rich endlessly loot their stockholders and kick the employees in the teeth, the America that our soldiers in Ramadi and Kirkuk and Anbar Province and Afghanistan are fighting for?...Are we maintaining an America that is not just a financial neighborhood, but also a brotherhood and a sisterhood worth losing your young husband for? Is this still a community of the heart, or a looting opportunity? Will there even be a free America for Mrs. Wroblewski's descendants, or will we be a colony of the people to whom we have sold our soul? Are we keeping the faith with this young widow? That is the question I ask about this beloved and glorious America for which her husband, Lt. John Thomas Wroblewski, died. If we are, we should be proud. If we are not, we'd better change, and soon.
Clearly, we are not keeping the faith, but is Bush to blame? No, Bush is a symptom. Do we need Bush to remind us again that we have to fix the big problems ourselves? Of course, the problems seem impossible using conventional money and conventional economics. The reason? There are two implicit hypotheses in Economics:

1. Money is value neutral
2. Our money system is a given, like the number of planets in the solar system

100% of Economic Theory is built on these two hypotheses. Both of them have been proven wrong.

Bernard describes three different problems and currency solutions which show us redesigning systems is more effective than trying to redress symptoms.

The first problem is "how do you solve the problem of unsustainable short-term corporate thinking and reduce a corporation's risk associated with monetary instability?" He describes the Terra.

The second problem is "how do you increase a country's knowledge capital?" Since the best way to learn something is to teach it, the Saber currency is a time dollar (tax exempt) currency which flows from younger students to older students in a mentorship hierarchy.

The third problem is "how do you provide preventative health care measures?" The traditional system provides what it is paid for: to keep sick people alive. Bernard describes a complementary currency system used in Bellingham, Washington.

Bernard tells us that intentional economics always has a time horizon. The time horizon is the length of time you have to disarm your opposition. What's left will be the sacred cows you have to work around. Conventional economics is just intentional economics with a time horizon of zero.

At the end of the day, there was a reception for Bernard who is finishing his visiting professorship at Naropa. It was an emotional goodbye for the people at Naropa. Good folks there. There seems to be a dignity associated with people who live near the mountains.

Sunday, July 09, 2006


Intentional Economics Day 2

Recall the 68 major money crashes in the last 350 years and they all have the same pattern. The handout we read for Day 2 was extracted from Bernard's book The Mystery of Money. The handout described the pattern of financial manias that result in crashes and how the pattern relates to the hyper-rational Apollo and irrational Dionysus. The four stages of financial crash parallel the four stages of the archetypal story of Apollo and Dionysus and even the words associated with financial crashes like mania (Maenads) and panic (Pan) originate from the story. The four stages:

1. The Build Up: Market pundits = Apollonian hyper-rational prophecies
2. Feeding Frenzy: Lambs move into the market = The child Dionysus is born
3. The Panic: Buying frenzy followed by selling frenzy = Orgiastic frenzy, mature Dionysus dismembered
4. Picking Up the Pieces: Committee of Wise Men investigates = Apollo returns

To be clear, the victims of the Dionysian mania are those who cling to Apollonian hyper-rationality.

The Mystery of Money was published in at least half a dozen languages. Unfortunately, none of them were English. It was sent for publication in New York. After the publisher sat on it for about a year, Bernard was told "This is a problem that doesn't exist in America." Months later, the tech bubble burst.

Bernard explains that no speculative crashes occurred before the 17th century. It's only modern money created by fiat (out of thin air) which allows this mechanism. Bernard says "A currency crash betrays trust, including trust in oneself."

The focus in the morning session is on archetypes. Bernard tells us that James Hillman is the school he is coming from and A Blue Fire is the best synthesis of Hillman's work.

"Why are money questions taboo?" Bernard asks. For example, the biggest taboo between a client and a therapist is not sleeping together. It is the therapist lending the client money.

It's well known that the two emotions of the market are fear of loss and greed. Bernard asked himself, "where do these two collective emotions come from? Are they natural? Why are they the only emotions?" He said nobody talks about them. They are considered natural.

It was at this time he started reading Moore and Gillette. They wrote books which discussed four of the five human archetypes: the Sovereign, the Warrior, the Magician, the Lover. The fifth archetype is the Great Mother. Where did it go? The earliest money systems were associated with the Great Mother archetype. The oldest known currency (3200 BC) is the Sumerian Shekel (Wheat Unit).

It's been repressed. When an archetype is repressed, the archetype splits and the two shadows are linked by fear. For instance, the Sovereign splits into Tyrant and Abdicator(Weakling).

The Great Mother splits into Greed and Scarcity which are the two market emotions. Money questions are taboo because the Great Mother archetype is repressed.

Modern money is the domain of Sovereign, Warrior, Magician and complementary currencies are the domain of Lover, Great Mother. We shouldn't (couldn't?) try to encompass all five archetypes with one currency.

Friday, July 07, 2006


Intentional Economics Day 1

I'm going to skip the prelude to the first evening. Air transportation is always an adventure. Needless to say, I made it to Naropa University in Boulder for the first evening of the three day conference on Intentional Economics with Bernard Lietaer. All attendees received a pre-publication copy of his new book, Of Human Wealth.

As Bernard was introduced by Dick Wagener, Dick explained that Bernard has been sick for the last 4 days and would need to speak softer than normal. He spoke softly but clearly.

What is intentional economics? Instead of assuming the right money system is in place, we ask "What is our objective?" Then, only after we figure that out do we design the system of money.

It's likely you have never heard of intentional economics. It's new, but the vested interests are not going to acknowledge it either.

Did you know that what's known as the Nobel Prize in Economics was not created by Alfred Nobel. Unlike the other prizes (physics, chemistry, etc.), the prize in economics was created by the Central Bank of Sweden. Bernard noted that Milton Friedman won the so-called "Nobel Prize" despite the fact that he was fantastically wrong when he said that stability would result from floating exchanges and it's probably a safe bet to say that the award would never be given for work on intentional economics. He recalled a conversation with another member when he was at the Bank of International Settlement in Basel (Are these the Gnomes of Basel?) where the other member said that the whole function of the BIS and the Central Banks was to keep the system like it is, not to improve it.

And that is crux of the problem with the world today. For all the humanity of charities and the billions of Bill and Melinda Gates Foundation, they're still only addressing symptoms, not the system. Bernard notes "billions are spent addressing symptoms. We need to address the system." He said addressing the system would cost a small fraction of what it is costing to address the symptoms.

Later Bernard said "Don't expect the fed to solve the problem. You will or no one will."

Bernard made it clear that dollars aren't bad just like a screwdriver isn't bad. A screwdriver works well for one thing but you don't want to paint your car with it.

Bernard began his talk with the four quadrants of integral perspective from the work of Ken Wilber. I won't describe this because this is the first I've heard of it and I'll be hearing much more in the next few days.

Then, Bernard emphasized that "our money system is a projection of our collective unconscious." There will me more on this in the later sessions.

He said Buddhism is a philosophy, not a religion. Since 600BC, we have been trained in linear causality instead of mutual causality: at the same time, we both shape and are a product of society. He noted Heraclitus as one of the few philosophers who spoke of mutual causality.

"It's time to make money our servant instead of the other way around."

Bernard noted that there have been 68 major money crashes in the last 350 years and they all have the same pattern.

Bernard recalled the comments of former Fed Chairman Paul Volker from a year and a half ago that there was a 75% chance of a currency crisis in the United States within five years.

Bernard noted that Argentina was the IMF's poster child for following their prescriptions and they got clobbered.

He said that people need to realize that the Information Age means the end of the Industrial Age. When the Industrial Age came, it was France, the master of the Agrarian age that felt it the hardest first. Now, Japan(perennial recession since early 90's) and Germany(Euro-sclerosis), the masters of the Industrial Age, are the first hit. We're in the birth contraction phase and in denial of what's happening.

Bernard explained the difference between money and currency. What a central authority requires in payment of taxes, thereby imposing it as legal tender, is money. Taxes lock us into money. Money is the Yang. It promotes competition and scarcity created through hierarchy. Currency is whatever a community chooses as a medium of exchange, thereby accepting it as common tender. Social currency is the Yin.

Bernard, as he admitted, quickly went through the history of Western money, including the Federal Reserve Act being passed on Christmas Eve and Wilson, who was funded by the bankers, signing it just in time for WWI. And in 1971, "Nixon removes the fig leaf and there was nothing!"

Bernard noted that there's only been 2 radical technological changes in the 5000 year history of money. Paper money and electronic money. Paper money shifted the power of money creation from the sovereigns to the banking system. Will electronic money mean the end of the monopoly of bank debt money?

Bernard noted that while he was President of Belgium’s Electronic Payment System, that his computing center had 1/18th of the power that the laptop running his powerpoint slides has. "Anyone can run their own financial system."

Then, Bernard covered material that is in The Future of Money, so I won't repeat that here.

Bernard said that because its market is so thin, gold is one of the easiest markets to manipulate.

Bernard also mentioned the book Short Circuit. He then said that we needed to have the given 28 page handout read for tomorrow morning.

Monday, July 03, 2006


Pancho & Lefty from Austin Pickers 1984

So continues an unofficial "best of" from YouTube. If you haven't seen Margaret Brown's Be Here To Love Me, it is really good. I agree with the Amazon reviewer: "Disjointed, confusing, confounding and depressing... so why have I watched it ten times?" This video here is not in the film and it seems to have been uploaded (from China) two days ago by the person who produced it.

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