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.

I need a skill. I don't think anyone wants to trade with a bureaucrat.

I ain't got no currency.... :(

Well, I guess I could always....... nah.....
I wonder if he will speak to the Ayn Rand view of money: as the most peaceful, civilized way for people in a free society to trade, replacing the former system of barter, even slavery of yourself to pay back something that money now allows you to use instead. something like that. i don't know yet of course what the future discussions will be as to something 'else' if anything else.
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