Posts Tagged ‘economics’

John McDonnell: The People’s Chancellor

November 24, 2015

John McDonnell, The People’s Chancellor, a breath of fresh air compared with Ed Balls or Alistair Darling. Unlike economic illiterate chancellor of the exchequer George Osborne, John McDonnell has some understanding of economics.

Once upon a time students had free university education (now £9,000 per annum with Tories wishing to hike the fees), and students got a grant, ie they were paid to study and go to university.

Students not wishing to be at university full-time, could do a part-time course or a sandwich course and study over a longer period, and be in employment.

Now students on a full-time course, are having to put in the hours at work as though on a part-time or sandwich course, not only that, it will be dreary, precarious McJobs, on low wages, often on zero hours.

Apple is relocating its factories to the US. These new factories will not employ American workers, they will employ robots.

Robots will work 24 hours a day, seven days a week, they do not need to be watered and fed, they do not need to be paid.

The price of stuff is tending to zero.

There is a growing mismatch between GDP and percentage going on wages.

Where we once had well-paid skilled workers with money jingling in their pockets to spend on the High Street we now have precarious workers on low wages, often below the minimum wage, robots on no wages.

This creates a downward spiral. Decimated town centres, slum housing estates.

With tax dodging, low corporation tax, corporations are amassing huge cash mountains, money that is not being invested in the economy.

The polices pursued by George Osborne in cutting money to the poor, are not only morally indefensible, they are also economic illiteracy. The poor spend money in the local economy.

Does society benefit by closing libraries, cutting to a bare minimum social services, the NHS, by privatising these public services?

We need investment, in education, in infrastructure, in green technologies.

We need alternative forms of ownership, democratisation of he workplace, open co-ops, collaborative commons.

Apple is not a good model to follow. A high-tech death star, like Uber, like Airbnb, that is creating a monopoly, control of intellectual property rights (to benefit the few not the many), serfs working for apps, where once unions negotiated for better working conditions and pay, we have atomised workers bidding against each other in a negative auction to force wages and working conditions ever downwards on a race to the bottom.

John McDonnell two years ago.

Beyond Austerity

November 22, 2015
Yanis Varoufakis and John McDonnell

Yanis Varoufakis and John McDonnell

Meeting at Methodist Central Hall. Shadow Chancellor John McDonnell, professor of economics and former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, various trade union leaders, antiwar, looking at how we move beyond austerity.  Overshadowed by the atrocities in Paris and looming war with Isis.

The meeting started with a minute silence for all the victims of terrorist violence.

With the election of Jeremy Corby and with John McDonnell as finance, Labour for the first time has an anti-austerity team. For the first time there is hope.

Austerity is an excuse for Shock Doctrine, slash and burn of public services, mass sell-off, cuts  to social services.

The worst affected are the disabled.

The probation service is being privatised, with all that means with criminals being put back into the community and if they re-offend where are the police to respond when police numbers are being cut and police stations closed?

Councils are facing serious financial cuts. They will provide what they have a statutory obligation to provide and nothing more. Social services are in crisis.

Collapse in social services, means people do not receive the care they need. They end up in hospital, which puts further strain on an already overstretched NHS, and costs more.

Lincolnshire is closing thirty out of forty-five libraries, with the remaining fifteen on reduced hours. But this has less to do with funding, than the leader of the council Martin Hill a moron and a Philistine.

Councils will offer the bare minimum they are under a statutory obligation to provide, nothing more, services will be outsourced and privatised, dependency upon charities.

In the constituency of John McDonnell, there are families living in sheds.

Go to Aldershot, there are families living in a multi-story car park, or there was.

George Osborne will announce more cuts in his Autumn Statement, be lauded in the press as a wizard, a genius. But is he?

He has increased both the deficit and the debt.  Balance of payment is at a record high. There is no investment. He wants to cut corporation tax to only 18%. As a country we earn very little, as everything has been sold off.

Companies are paying out record dividends, sitting on a cash mountain, but not investing, they see no future.

John McDonnell gives a conservative  estimate of a £400 to £500 billion cash surplus, Yanis Varoufakis put it at £750 billion.

This is idle cash. We must invest it, put it to productive use.

UK is a leader in scientific research, but lags on investment.

We should invest in green infrastructure, invest in education.

People have no future. It used to be each generation had better prospects, now it is the opposite.

People need to have creative work, where they contribute to the greater good of society.

We have to end the tax avoidance and tax evasion by global corporations.

Banks have to be split, casino banking from retail banking, they must be broken up, subject to better regulation. If they wish to gamble, do with their own money. They do not contribute to society. We reduce their stranglehold by investment in other sectors of the economy, in  skills.

Mass media has become rabid propaganda channels for the 1%, spewing a daily drip, drip, drip feed of misinformation, lies, smears and hate.  We must form our own communication channels. The media must be broken up. We cannot have people like Murdoch, Lord Rothermere, Barclay Brothers owning large chunks of the media.

Media channels that give an alternative view and help nail many of the lies.

The Tories do not have a mandate. They got 11 million out of 46 million votes.

The election of Jeremy Corbyn and the immediate aftermath has shown Labour has a problem. Members of Parliament who do not represent their constituents.

What is a good society? Think of a good family. They help to develop, look after the weakest and the sick, those who have strayed they try to bring back.

We are facing a return to the 1930s. That is where the Tories are taking us.

We must opposes austerity. This includes taking direct action. All progressive forces, anti-austerity campaigners, disability rights activists, climate activists, must all join forces to oppose austerity and map out an alternative.

On leaving the meeting, walking through Whitehall, to Piccadilly Circus, along Oxford Street, through Soho, to Covent Garden, then at night after eating at Home Slice in Covent Garden, I was shocked at the number of homeless bedding down and sleeping on the street. I have never seen this number before. It was worse than what I saw of homeless on the streets of Athens.

As with the homeless bedding down for a night on the street, my journey by train was also indicative of all that is wrong. A train of only five coaches, overcrowded, standing room only, for which we pay some of the highest fares in Europe.

Meeting was organised by Trade Union Co-ordinating Group with the support of The People’s Assembly. The meeting was filmed by Let Me Look TV.

Special thanks to Yanis Varoufakis for book signing.

Yanis Varoufakis book signing

Yanis Varoufakis book signing

Europe is Kaput

November 17, 2015
Yanis Varoufakis Royal Festival Hall 00

Royal Festival Hall slowly filling up

Yanis Varoufakis Royal Festival Hall 01

introduction by Royal Festival Hall creative director

Yanis Varoufakis Royal Festival Hall 02

Srecko Horvat with Yanis Varoukis and Slavoj Zizek

Yanis Varoufakis Royal Festival Hall 04

surprise fourth guest …

Yanis Varoufakis Royal Festival Hall 05

Julian Assange

A discussion between former Greek finance minister and professor of economics Yanis Varoufakis and philosopher Slavoj Zizek at Royal Festival Hall on the South Bank in London.  Moderated by  philosopher Srecko Horvat. A surprise fourth member, Julian Assange half way through the discussion (such the magic of modern communications).

A discussion overshadowed by the terrorist attacks by ISIS Friday night in Paris.

Yanis Varoufakis was due attend a conference in Paris on Plan B for Europe. This had to be cancelled.

Why one minute silence at 1100 GMT? Why the French colours on buildings across the world?

France was criticised for closing its borders.

No one knew what was happening. It would have been remiss of France had the borders not been sealed.

We need to be wary of a backlash. We must not allow the creation of a repressive state, controlling and monitoring its citizens.

Soviet union ok it just happened to have a democratic deficit.

The same could be said of EU, ok but just happens to have a democratic deficit.

In the UK, democracy was something that grew organically. The barons challenged the King and we had Magna Carta. The merchants challenged the aristocrats. The industrialists the merchants. The proletariat the ruling class. The banks challenge the industrialists. The role of the state to act as a moderator, to stop one group exploiting another.

EU lacks democratic accountability, it is corrupt, autocratic, it takes away national sovereignty.

Proud nations, with a long history, their sovereignty has vanished into a black hole.

The foundation of the EU, iron and steel and coal federation, a cartel to benefit these industries. An administration to help it run. Agriculture added. Fixed exchange rates enabled price fixing. Fluctuating exchange rates led to the creation of the euro.  Prices could again be fixed. The bureaucrats who run the EU have contempt for democracy.

Th European Parliament a gravy train, nothing to do with democracy or accountability.

Technology allows us to communicate, as never before, and yet we are less well informed as never before. Oligarchs distort and filter the information we receive, they do so to further their own interests.

We have to be better at using technology, to network.

Is it possible to make the EU democratic? Probably not, but if we do not believe it to be possible and try, then it never will be democratic.

The ECB (European Central Bank) could write out a cheque for everyone living in poverty. Exact opposite of policies pursued by economic illiterate George Osborne who is cutting money to the poor.

Meetings of the European Finance Minsters could be live streamed over the internet.  Meetings would then be held in secret, where the real business would be discussed. Make a criminal offence. Eventually they would be caught.

Several trillion dollars siting idle. Put that money to work, invest in green infrastructure, would create jobs and benefit everyone.

We must criticise Islam. We should ignore those whose knee-jerk reaction is to scream Islamaphobia.

A Palestine singer sang of honour killings. He was booed in the US for doing so.

Human rights transcends culture and religion. That women have always been bastardised, part of culture, does not make it acceptable.

US, Europe and Russia must come together and cooperate in the fight against ISIS.

Saudi Arabia an exporter of terror.

Two competing ideologies, Islam and the Death Stars of Silicon Valley (high tech companies).

Apple is relocating factories from China to US. US factories will not employ people, they will employ robots. Robots do not spend money in the economy.

We could and should create a Basic Income.

We cannot have people who have never even visited a company, owning that company or a part of that company, speculative investment. We have to have alternative corporate ownership.

One possibility is open co-ops as postulated by Michel Bauwens. Those who work there have a stake, as do those who are effected, and the open co-op would contribute to the global commons.

An example, though not an open co-op, would be Infinity Foods, a worker-owned cooperative in North Laine in Brighton. They contribute to the local community by granting pensioners a 10% discount.

The opposite end of the spectrum, classic Death Star, facebook, information is captured from users, and goes to fill the coffers of facebook.

A Citizen Assembly, no politicians or parties (examples would be in Iceland and The People’s Assembly in England) drawing up a constitution, how they wish to shape the EU.

TTIP (linking North America and Europe), and its equivalent linking North America with Pacific Rim countries, has a geo-political dimension, it is as much about the countries it excludes (Brazil, China, Russia) as to the countries it includes. It has little to do with trade, it is about handing control to global corporations, it is being negotiated in secret. It must be opposed.

Russia and Putin are understandably paranoid. The West, contrary to agreement reached bewteen Ronald Reagan and Mikhail  Gorbachev, has expanded up to the borders of Russia.

If we do not like Putin, we should work with democrats in Russia.

The surveillance state is like God, all knowing. We can pretend it does not exist, but if we accept it exists, what impact on our behaviour?

As Paul Mason details in PostCapitalism, capitalism is dying. What comes next?

TTIP, tax-avoiding global corporations, marauding high-tech death stars, the rich guarded by private militias, mass unemployment, precarious employment competing with robots in sweatshop factories, serfs working for death star apps, intrusive mass surveillance, monitoring, logging, controlling our every thought, movement and social interactions?

A brutal Caliphate controlled by ISIS?

Or a networked, sharing, collaborative society, where wealth is evenly distributed?

On leaving, everyone asked to have their own internal minute of silence for all the victims of violence across the world.

Books for sale in the foyer by Foyles, The Global Minotaur by Yanis Varoufakis and several books by the other contributor panellists.

Sadly no book signing, the event overran by 45 minutes and the Royal Festival Hall had to be evacuated by eleven o’clock.

A very special thanks to Cristina Savini Soler who unable to attend kindly gave me her ticket.

PostCapitalism: Envisaging a Shared Future

November 3, 2015
St Paul's Cathedral

St Paul’s Cathedral

Paul Mason signing PostCapitalism

Paul Mason signing PostCapitalism

Paul Mason discussing PostCapitalism, the conclusions of a shared economy not the analysis, at St Paul’s in the City of London, under the auspices of St Paul’s Institute.

St Paul’s within the heart of the City of London. Does capitalism have a heart?

A couple of years ago, Occupy were camped outside offering a different narrative.

Capitalism is a complex system. Every complex system adapts to its environment, and in doing so, modifies its environment. There comes though a point when it can no longer adapt, it breaks downs, flips to another state, dies and its niche occupied by another complex system.

Below St Paul’s, lies a Roman Temple dedicated to Diana. St Paul’s is built on the site of a medieval cathedral.

The Roman Temple was built by military occupiers, probably using slave labour. The medieval cathedral by a feudal system. Wren’s St Paul’s built by mercantile capital.

Capitalism is not set in stone, though the City of London would have us believe so. Mercantile capitalism was followed by industrial capitalism, now we have financial capitalism.

Capital used to finance innovation, invest in productive systems, this generated wealth, from which we all benefited. Now we have financial capitalism, money is invested to create money, silly money chases silly projects like Uber and AirBnB.

Post-WWII we had growth through the 1950s and 1960s. It came to an abrupt end in 1973.

We are seeing boom and bust, bubbles, but no real growth. Crisis follows crisis. We are not seeing innovation.

Marxist Theory of Value, land, capital and labour, determines price. We now have a fourth factor, knowledge, intellectual property.

We have global monopolies, the like of which we have never seen. Companies like Apple. It costs 99 cents to download a track, because that is what Apple says it will cost. It is not determined by the market. Same applies to an iPhone. Apple uses its monopoly position to determine the price.

But this is not sustainable. Knowledge is free, it can be freely reproduced.

Check out FairPhone, or One Plus One or One Plus Two. Contrast with the latest offering from Apple or Samsung.

The price of stuff is tending to zero. Price is a signal on which the market functions. If the price is zero, the market can not function.

We need to move to open co-ops, a sharing, collaborative, gift economy, where we all contribute to the global commons, and draw upon the global commons.

Linux was created by collaborative effort, as was Apache. The internet runs on Linux and Apache, on Open Source Software, the world’s supercomputers run on Linux.

We can achieve more through collaboration, sharing, cooperating. Hierarchical systems are not efficient cannot easily adapt, networked systems are efficient, can rapidly adapt.

The share of wages of the global economy is declining. It is being driven by credit, confected money. If workers lack money in their pocket to spend, we are heading to crunch time.

Many jobs are robotic in nature can and should be replaced by robots. Freeing people to pursue more productive lives. This would necessitate a Basic Wage, sufficient to live on.

Agora is a bar in a quiet plaza in Puerto de la Cruz in Tenerife. It is difficult to sit on ones own, people draw one into their conservations. These are externalities, which makes Agora an interesting place to be. Agora benefits because sells more drinks. Contrast this with facebook, we all contribute, we are the product, we produce the content,  facebook then profits, it captures and privatises the externalities.

Ann Pettifor gave a synopsis of PostCapitalism, but in her criticism, showed she had read but not understood. She confused Uber and AirBnB with the sharing economy. A common mistake.

Uber is a cowboy, unregulated taxi operation which offers unfair competition to legitimate taxi operators. The drivers take all the risks, Uber creams off the profits, and pays no tax.

Uber is often used as an example for what is referred to as the sharing economy, but in reality, and and there are many other examples, we have surfs working for apps.

Ann Pettifor is correct to raise her grave concern at this rapidly growing sector of the economy, but should not confuse it with the sharing gift economy, collaborative commons.

Phillip Blond seemed to have completely lost the plot. He talked of morality, bringing justice and fair play into the world. He did not understand the concept of artificial scarcity, monopoly, which forces up the price of what should be freely available. He talked of expensive art. His point though that all could be producers, was relevant. In the sharing, collaborative commons, we all have the opportunity to become producers and consumers, often making our own unique contribution.

Elizabeth Oldfield chaired the meeting. One of her rare interjections was to ask Ann Pettifor the meaning of rentier economy. Earning money from money, not from hard graft, getting your hands dirty, not from labour or the land.

Why is your book not free?

A good question. When we create, we draw upon what went before. Working for the Channel 4 and before that the BBC, public money has paid for the work.

We could also ask, why Penguin, why a big corporate publisher? Why not Zed Books, a small publisher, a co-operative, is that not more in keeping with the ideals of PostCapitalism? The Global Minotour is published by Zed Books, as is Change Everything. Or why not publish Unbound Books, which crowd funds books? It could be argued exposure, Penguin gets books on the shelves. But does not a book like PostCapitalism spread by word of mouth?

A hardback, a real book, real costs, paper, trees, shipping, warehousing, shelving, booksellers. With an e-book, the costs are zero. The costs of the servers written off years ago. Robots convert to appropriate download formats. Any publisher that charges more than a pound is blatantly ripping people off.

hardback

  • Foyles — £16-99
  • Guardian Live — £15-00
  • Penguin — £14-00
  • Amazon — £11-89

e-book

  • Kindle — £9-99
  • Kobo — £9-99
  • Google Play — £9-99

A couple of years ago, Paulo Coelho offered his entire back catalogue at 99 cents an e-book, a book for the price of a song. Downloads shot up by several thousand percent.

Jeremy Rifkin received a lot of stick for the high price for the e-book of The Zero Marginal Cost Society, a book the entire thesis the collaborative economy and the cost of stuff tending to zero.

Contrast with Sacred Economics, available for free download, pay what you wish, accept it as a gift from the author. What will you gift in return?

Or Europe after the Minotaur, an update of The Global Minotaur, available as a free download.

Phillip Blond spoke of friendship.

In the sharing economy, everything has a story, a social interaction involved. Not an anonymous purchase in exchange for cash.

I gave a friend a special 25th anniversary limited edition of The Alchemist. I have never before seen someone jump for joy. She did, when she looked inside and saw it was signed, not only signed but signed to her. She could not contain her joy, she ran across the road to tell her mother.

Would she have had the same joy had she bought a copy for cash? Yes, she would have had the pleasure of reading but one copy would be no different to another, replaceable if you have the cash.

If I go away, I do not load a Kobo Reader (far better than Kindle), I take real books. When I have read, I give them away.

I have bought four copies of PostCapitalism. I gave my orignal copy away to my friend. Ten days ago, on my way to Yanis Varoufakis in conversation with Paul Mason, I bought a copy of PostCapitalism to replace the one I had given away. At the venue I bought a copy, then a second copy, of The Global Minotaur. Sadly I did not get them signed. This evening, I brought along my copy of PostCapitalism, and bought two more. One signed for me, two to be given away as gifts.

Having bought four copies, should I not be entitled to free e-books?

Every book should have a unique code, use it to download the e-book. You have already paid for the book, the only difference is the format within which you read the book.

If I give my work away free, should others profit from my work?

Michel Bauwens, founder of P2P Foundation and leading advocate of the sharing economy, has suggested a new type of  licencing agreement. Contribute to the commons, from which all can freely draw, but if for-profit draw then they pay a contribution.

Those not familiar with the sharing, collaborative economy, are dismissive, think it will not work, they often give music as an example, people will not pay they will abuse the system.

Bandcamp shows they are wrong. Musicians will release their work, often at low price with people opting to pay what they think it is worth. Fans will willingly pay more than the asking price.

Sita Sings the Blues was released without the usual copyright restrictions. People can show, they are trusted to pay the producer.

In the spirit of the gift economy, tickets were free. Less than one hundred tickets still available the day before. On the night, not a single ticket left, 2,500 people. What will be their contribution to the gift economy, having accepted a gift? Mine, you have just read.

An ideal follow up meeting would be Paul Mason in conversation with Michel Bauwens discussing the sharing, collaborative economy.

Paul Mason is author of PostCapitalism and economics editor of Channel 4 news.

Yanis Varoufakis at Cambridge Union

October 30, 2015

Yanis Varoufakis at Cambridge Union.

It is not from the centre of empire we see collapse, not from the glass towers in the City of London, it is from the fringes, it is the slums of London, on the banks of the Dniestr, where poverty is that of Africa, where the people would rather be in the gangster economy of Vladimir Putin in Russia, it is in the south, in Greece, in Cyprus, Portugal, Spain.

Greece is the canary in the cage, where there was hope, there is despair. In Athens, stray dogs and homeless sleeping on the street. The people voted no to the EU proposals, they were betrayed by Syriza who signed a declaration of surrender, the people to be punished for daring to challenge the EU, a whole country to be destroyed.

J M Keynes quite rightly attacked the Treaty of Versailles. Germany was to be punished, the country bled dry. We saw the result, the rise of Adolf Hitler, World War Two, a continent destroyed, 20 million dead. Lessons were learnt. And yet it seems no lessons have been learnt. Greece is now under occupation, ruled by a Vichy Regime, a puppet government of the EU, the country to be raped and pillaged, stripped of its assets.

For perverse reasons only known to themselves, Cambridge Union only publish highlights, and the entire talk not until the end of term.

Times and Telegraph smear Yanis Varoufakis

October 28, 2015
Yanis Varoufakis in conversation with Paul Mason at Central Hall Westminster

Yanis Varoufakis in conversation with Paul Mason at Central Hall Westminster

It should come as no surprise, that The Times and Telegraph have mounted an unpleasant smear campaign against former Greek finance minister Yanis Varoufakis, accusing him of profiteering from the Greek economic crisis.

No one  did more to fight for Greece than Yanis Varoufakis, unfortunately he was betrayed by his own party Syriza, who surrendered to the European Union, betraying in the process their fellow Greek citizens.

When Charlotte Church and Russell Brand joined anti-austerity protests, they were smeared by The Sun and Daily Mail. Charlotte Church has had the gutter hacks who work for the Daily Mail sniffing around her neighbours, trying to dig up dirt on her and her children. Russell Brand hit back, exposed the tax dodging activities of Murdoch (owner of The Sun and The Times) and of Lord Rothermere (owner of the Daily Mail).

Peter Oborne was chief political commentator of The Telegraph. He resigned in disgust at the lies and half truths peddled by The Telegraph (owned by the tax-dodging Barclay Brothers).

As soon as Jeremy Corbyn put his name in the hat for Labour Party Leader, the smear campaign began, and has hotted up since becoming party leader. We have seen writer of pretentious crap Martin Amis writing Jeremy Corbyn lacks the intellectual ability to be party leader. Garbage in The Telegraph that every ill under the sun can be put at the door of Jeremy Corbyn (which has spectacularly backfired on The Telegraph).

Yanis Varoufakis is not unused to such abuse and smears, he had six months of it in Greece whilst finance minister.

Yanis Varoufakis has responded to the smear in The Times and Telegraph by accounting for his expenses. Will we see the Barclay Brothers, Lord Rothermere, Rupert Murdoch publish details of their tax-dodging activities? Will we see war criminal Tony Blair account for his profiteering from the Iraq war?

It would seem in order for Yanis Varoufakis to file a formal complaint to the press regulator.

We have a cosy media-political establishment.

When people like the Barclay Brothers, Murdoch and Lord Rothermere own and control the media, not only do we no longer have a a free press, we lack a functioning democracy.

Yanis Varoufakis in conversation with Aaron Bastani

October 26, 2015

Professor of Economics and former Greek Finance Minister Yanis Varoufakis in conversation with co-founder Novar Media  Aaron Bastani.

Greece dared to challenge the European Union aka the Fourth Reich, and for that reason, Greece had to be crushed.

A warning to other countries, challenge the EU, and you to will be crushed.

PostCapitalism: The End of Capitalism

July 24, 2015

We know capitalism has failed, we saw that with the banking crisis, wehn it caused a worldwide crash, from which we have still not recovered, but it is being used as an excuse for austerirty, shock doctrine, slash and burn of public services, mass closure of public libraries, cuts to public services, cuts to welafre fotr the poorest.

We know capitalism has failed, with its demand for endless growth that is now putting the palnet at risk.

We know capitalism has failed because with P2P, sharing, the gift economy, open co-ops, collaborative commons, therea re alternative ways of woarking, of welath creation, that are more equaitable, that give worker stasisfayion, that do not wreck the planet.

Uber is not the sharing economy. It is worker explootaion, serfs working for an app. It is not an example of inovation, undercutting an existing regime, it is cowboy, unlicnced taxi drivers competing with adn undercutting regulated taxi drivers.

—- draft not yet to be published —–

Plan C
Revolution
Sacred Economics
This Changes Everything
Has capitalism had its day?

eGaia

January 25, 2015
eGaia

eGaia

It is the convergence between commons and co-ops that will create a new economy and a new society. — Michel Bauwens

A story, a group of stories, people telling stories, stories of the future, stories from the future.

In eGaia, three interlocking economies described

  • local co-operative
  • regional
  • global

Within the local economy, everything is on a sharing basis, no money, people are expected to keep in balance, and contribute their fair share. It goes one stage further than granting a Basic Income.

For what the local economy cannot supply, will source from either regional or global economy, for which a financial exchange takes place, using a digital currency, there being a regional and global currency.

If one of the businesses operating within the local economy requires money, it goes to the regional bank. Free money is created (ie interest free), when paid back, the money self-destroys. The economy is not built on debt.

Additional accounts are kept of ecological footprint of every transaction.

Businesses innovate to offer a better service, not to gain a competitive advantage as not in competition, and will share their innovation.

All carried out by means of smart phone apps.

As Rob Bell explains in Love Wins, it is not that money is the root of all evil, it is what we do with money.

We can look around, see things that need to be done, but we lack the money, we can look around, see things that need to be done, but we lack the time, we have to work to earn a living.

Money is a means of exchange. I have something you want, we agree a price, an exchange takes place, money changes hands.

Usury places a levy called interest on what would otherwise be free money. The economy has to grow to service the debt. Companies sell us things we do not want to increase their market share. We cannot have linear growth on a finite planet.

Man has always had an impact on the environment. Civilisations have risen, then collapsed, when they exceeded the carrying capacity of the land. Once it was local, then regional, now the entire planet. Mass species extinction, habitat destruction, global warming, Those at the front line of extraction, are in conflict zones. We need several planets to sustain our extraction, we do not have several planets, we have one.

The problem is not Peak Oil. Innovation opens up more resources. The problem is that innovation is opening up more hazardous sources of oil, tar sands, fracking, deepwater, Arctic. The problem is, we cannot burm even known resrves, if we are to keep global temperature rose below 2C, and even 2C will lead to more extreme weather events. If we go beyond 2C, all bets are off, the models begin to break down.

We are naive, arrogant even, if we think we can save the planet. Recent extreme weather events has shown, Gaia always has the last laugh. We cannot. Nor do we need to create Gaian feedback loops, these already exist. The role of Man, is to learn from Gaia, and to act as custodian of Gaian feedback mechanisms

Early lifeforms emitted oxygen as a waste product. Oxygen is toxic. Later life forms learnt how to deal with oxygen.

Oxygen is kept within very narrow limits. Too high and there would be spontaneous combustion, too low and most life on earth could not exist.

One of many Gaian feedback mechanisms.

We know that to keep global temperature rise to below 2C, 80% of known carbon reserves have to be kept in the ground, and even 2C will lead to more extreme weather events.

This raises two points:

  • oil companies worthless
  • why are we still exploring for new reserves

The value of oil companies is the value of their reserves. If they cannot extract, the value of the oil companies becomes worthless overnight.

New extraction is increasingly hazardous: tar sands, deepwater, fracking, Arctic.

A different way of looking at the stored carbon is to go back millions of years. Carbon cycle was not perfect. Trees (strictly speaking not trees) formed coal, simple lifeforms formed oil. If we release this carbon that was extracted from the atmosphere, it means we return to the prevailing climate at that time, if we release within a few hundred years, we trigger thermal runway.

Insanity: UK government is granting fracking generous tax concessions, paying to drill. An Infrastructure Bill passing through Parliament will make it a legal obligation to maximise oil exaction.

Rapid growth is not the norm in the natural world.

We see it when we introduce an alien species to an island, with no natural predators, Rapid growth usually followed by catastrophic collapse.

We see it with cancer.

We see it on bare land, for example following a forest fire, or rapidly retreating ice at an interglacial, rapid growth by pioneer species, secondary species follow, and eventually steady state of a mature ecosystem, The interaction between the species creates the environment, the environment creates the conditions for the species.

In a rainforest, the rain is created by the rainforest.

Important is trophic cascade and keystone species. Remove the keystone species, rapid collapse. It is the keystone species that maintains the diversity.

Cod, wolves and whales are keystone species.

Traditionally, it was thought ecosystems developed from the bottom up: the soil determines the vegetation, the vegetation the herbivores, the herbivores the carnivores. We now know this not to be true, it is the top predators, the keystone species, those whose influence extends far beyond their numbers, that determine an ecosystem.

Top predators, in what is known as trophic cascade, can have an effect all the way down the food chain.

Reintroduction of wolves to the Yellowstone National Park, affected the landscape.

With no predators, the deer populations soared, destroying the vegetation and trees, denuding the landscape.

Though wolves were small in number, did not kill many deer, they changed the pattern of behaviour of the deer, the deer avoid the places most likely to be ambushed by wolves. In those areas, the trees recover, birds return, bears return. Beavers return, beavers damn the rivers, providing more habitats for mores species. The river changes. The trees stop soil erosion, the landscape changes.

The wolves may kill a few deer, but they also create life, they create the conditions for life to exist in more varied variety than existed before their introduction.

The Japanese would argue killing of whales, in fact the Japanese will find any excuse to kill whales, more krill, more fish.

Killing whales leads to fewer krill.

Whales stir up the waters, bring nutrients to the surface.

Phytoplankton feed on the nutrients, zoo plankton feed on the phytoplankton, fish feed on the plankton.

Phytoplankton capture carbon which is then carried down to the ocean sediments. Millions of tonnes of carbon capture.

The presence of whales, leads to more life, not less.

Top predators are not only affecting life all the way along the food chain, they are impacting on geophysical processes.

Instead of loony schemes to seed the oceans, imaginary machines to suck CO2 out of the air (and then pump into oil wells to extract more oil), protect whales.

Gaia does her job, if we let her.

Millions of years of co-evolution, networks within networks, mutual coexistence, should tell us how to organise our affairs in a manner that works.

Hierarchical system do not work, for one simple reason, it requires perfect knowledge of what is happening at the next level.

Self-organising networks, are adaptable, have feedback.

Exponential growth within finite resources, leads to catastrophic collapse.

We cannot propose a future, project it on the past, then use that as justification for the future we wish to see.

We cannot say, hunter-gatherers may have engaged in war with surrounding tribes but it led to little blood letting. Where is the evidence?

We can speculate on a sharing society, we can look at indigenous cultures today.

What we see is hunters sharing the kill. Very good reason for this. Spoils of the hunt do not keep beyond a few days, therefore better to share, and hope those we share with, will invite us to share when they have good fortune.

As Carla Stang describes in her description of Mechinaku in her essay Rampant Rainbows and the Blacked Sun in Dark Mountain 6, they have a deep and intimate relationship with the world around them, treat it with reverence and respect. But she also makes the point, we cannot apply our external views, we have to take what we see within its own context.

Nor is sharing, reciprocity, restricted to indigenous cultures.

In Istanbul, not knowing how to pay for the tram, an attractive local female kindly paid for me. I commented that it would be easy to hop on the tram, hop off, without paying. This was treated with horror, that I could even have the thought let alone carry out the act. It was something you simply did not do.

There is not a clear division between hunter-gatherers and agriculture. Hunter-gatherers will often plant trees, tend gardens.

Speech possibly evolved from music, music from the rhythmic sounds we hear around us.

Nonsense to claim ‘language functions to deny reciprocity with nature’.

Do we see this with Celtic writing or Zen masters or or Hildegard von Bingen or Henry David Thoreau or Ralph Waldo Emerson or Aldo Leopold or Wendell Berry?

Of course not. The disconnect is with the myths we tell, that got ever greater traction during the Industrial Revolution, that Man has Dominion over Nature.

Henry David Thoreau:

The earth I tread on is not a dead, inert mass. It is a body, has a spirit, is organic, and fluid to the existence of its spirit, and to whatever particle of that spirit is in me.

Ralph Waldo Emerson:

Many eyes go through the meadow, but few see the flowers in it.

Aldo Leopold:

enlarges the boundaries of the community to include soils, waters, plants and animals

the individual is a member of a community of interdependent parts

changes the role of Homo sapiens from conqueror of the land-community to plain members and citizens of it. It implies respect for his fellow-members, and also respect for the community as such.

We now need a new narrative, Man in cooperation with nature. A new narrative the Dark Mountain Project has tried to foster.

The limit to the size of cities was not the carrying capacity of the land. It was the ability to transport food and goods in, and waste out. This changed with the arrival of trains.

The Industrial Revolution did not start in England because of nearby colonies to exploit. It started because James Watt invented a reliable steam engine in 1776 and the availability of coal.

Steam did not have an immediate advantage. Water mills were more powerful than early steam engines. Wind and water were free. What led to change were several factors, no longer reliant on the whims of nature, can work night and day, steam is transportable. Watermills, windmills, located where supply of water and wind, usually in the countryside, not a ready supply of labour if a strike, not so easy to replace workers. In cities ready supply of labour, close to market.

Propagation of the myth we destroyed our woods. It was lack of use that destroyed our woods, they were used sustainably. A myth Oliver Rackham has long demolished.

Basic premise of eGia, is that Gaia needs Man as its nervous system, hence eGaia.

What does it mean for the Earth to function with the coherence of an organism with humanity analogous to its nervous system?

At best this is arrogance.

Gaia functioned without Man, Gaia will continue to function without Man. The best Man can do is act as Custodian of Gaian feedback loops, to claim more is arrogance, the same arrogance that led Man to believe he was Master of Nature.

Hurricane Katrina, Sandy, typhoon in the Philippines, showed Man is Master of nothing.

Man evolved as part of the natural world, was part of Nature, the downfall of Man was when he became apart from Nature. We need to rewild our natural world, but we also need to rewild ourselves, even if it a walk barefoot along the seashore, paddling in and out of the waves.

You cannot take societies, close knit, good community relations, and transfer their dispute mechanism to other societies that lack those close community links. People agree, because they do not want loss of face.

But it can work both ways, close communities can lead to abuse. Pakistani girls being brutally gang raped, not able to speak out, and if they do threats of violence, forced marriage. Or girls in Nepalese communities, forced into marriage. They feel twice violated, as they lack the human rights of the wider society as wider society turns a blind eye.

Unbelievable ignorance on Israel-Palestine and Middle East. It is not caused by fear of the other, that is the symptom. It is caused by seizure of land, brutal occupation, Palestinians kicked out of their homes where they have lived for generations, villages that have been there for centuries, denied water, electricity, because they lack planning permission, destruction of olive groves, Gaza kept as a prison camp, massive destruction of Gaza.

Jews and Arabs had lived in pace together for generations, until Zionist terrorists established the State of Israel.

It is easy, as Canon Andrew White says, to talk to your friends, you have to be prepared to talk to your enemies. He has earned the trust of Sunni and Shia leaders in Iraq, got them to sit down and talk to each other.

Truth and Reconciliation worked in South Africa, because of the culture in which it was embedded.

In close knit communities, slight on one family, a slight that has to be avenged, goes on for generations.

Sustainability, a much abused word that has has become meaningless. Everything has the in word sustainable attached. A greedy developer trashes a town centre, it is called sustainable. And what is it we are wishing to sustain, the present inequitable, exploitative greed-driven system that is trashing the planet?

What we should be looking to achieve is steady-state, emulate Gaia.

So it looks at what is desirable sustainability in physical and biological terms while ignoring constraints due to entrenched beliefs, our current economic system …

Really! No one ignores economics factors, and economic factors do not apply constraints, far from from it, it is the economic system of exponential growth that is causing the problem. Fundamental to any discussion.

It is nonsense statements like this, and sadly not an isolated example, why eGaia lacks any credibility.

Similarly

What would it mean if humanity were organised so that looking after the health of the whole of the living Earth were one of its living values?

Gaia is more than capable of looking after Earth. What we require of Man is stop damaging her control mechanisms.

For our material needs, we need closed loops, where the output of one process feeds into another. Emulate the natural world, where there is not an accumulation of waste in either time or space. Use naturally occurring materials, and where we use man made for example plastic and steel, we copy the natural world, form closed loops. And any toxic materials we eliminate from our cycles. We have to move away from a linear systems, of extraction, sweatshop production, six months in the home, then onwards to landfill or incineration. A linear system producing stuff we neither need nor want, that does nothing to enhance our quality of life.

We need diversity, localism, co-operation, mutual support, sharing, collaborative commons, the greater the diversity, the greater the adaptability.

We need rewilding of our natural habitats. Reintroduction of keystone species like wolves, reintroduction of the European beaver. Beavers improve watercourses, enhance diversity, clean the water, stop downstream flooding. Rewilding also benefits Man, when we visit wild places.

We need agro-forestry. Greater output, supplying local markets. We should not forget the towns, which can be productive.

In Brazil, every municipality is funding perma-culture courses.

We need locally owned and controlled energy grids, into which feed local sources of renewable energy, only the surplus fed into the National Grid.

We need as Michel Bauwens has outlined, something more than co-ops, we need co-ops that contribute to the commons.

We need as Russell Brand has outlined in Revolution, autonomous, self-organising networks, that cooperate with other networks, the only restraint, no harm to others, either internally or externally, and no harm to the planet.

Kyoto was not a failure per se. It was a failure because it lacked teeth, no enforcement mechanism, contrast with various trade treaties, contrast with WTO.

We need polluter shall pay, reflecting the real costs of externalised costs, which we all pay, but indirectly. Not complex financial instruments for speculators.

A large number of smaller organisations, can become niche players, cooperate with each other.

No mention of the marginal costs of stuff falling. This is important, as can produce locally, 3D printing, open source, open source workshops. If marginal costs near zero, viable to produce locally, as shipping costs and energy dominate.

In Barcelona, the city has given a pledge, by 2020 one FabLab in every neighbourhood. By 2050, half of all food production and manufacturing to be local, through distributed manufacturing

Most products, the embedded energy is higher than the energy costs in use. Becomes of vanishing importance the efficiency of the product. Therefore quality products, designed to last, easy to repair.

FairPhone is an excellent example of a phone designed to be repairable, recycled, non-use of materials from conflict zones.

TechStart an example of a community enterprise, take in old computers, refurbish, re-sell at low price, reuse components, training, net cafe.

Bandcamp encourages music sharing. If you like, pay for the music.

Bristol Skipchen surplus food cafe does what it says, recycles waste food into delicious meals.

A cooperative economy is not the same as a moneyless economy. A moneyless economy, is a sharing economy, a gift economy, collaborative commons.

Co-ops benefit members of the co-op. Collaborative commons are shared resources.

In Quito, housing co-ops have reclaimed ravines used to dump rubbish as public parks.

When we share, everyone is richer.

An Open Co-op exists to supply a need, not to make a profit. Everyone who is impacted by the Co-op has a say. It contributes to the commons. Open Coops co-produce commons. An Open Co-op innovates then shares the information. Open Co-ops linked globally, can outperform multinationals.

Innovation in the market is to seek a competitive advantage. If no profit, innovation is shelved. It is not for need.

Much of the internet is built upon Open Source Software, collaborative commons. People choose to contribute, they are not forced, are not paid.

There is a growth in co-ops during economic crisis.

Co-ops are not any more likely to make a more stable economy. In a downturn, yes, less likely to lay off workers, they would more readily agree to a wage cut, and we are seeing that in non-co-ops, as companies are recognising it is easier to recover if have not lost skilled workers. On the other hand Open Co-ops yes, due to the greater involvement of society and their contribution to the commons.

For an information based economy, existing social networks are not a good example to build upon, in a commons based economy it would be peer-2-peer networks.

Social networks did not trigger either Occupy or the Arab Spring, though have proved useful to coordinate activity.

An information network is not a necessary condition to safeguard the planet, though can be a useful tool.

The availability of cheap air travel has not led to understanding of other cultures, quite the opposite.

NGOs do not suggest a way forward. They are little more than businesses, supplying a need, touting for money. It is far better we organise to satisfy those needs ourselves.

Global events like Band Aid and Live Aid have not led to better understanding, these were music events, little else. They emphasised the victim culture, reliant upon the West to mount a rescue. The release of the Band Aid single Band Aid 30 for Ebola has been heavily criticised and rightly so especially when there was a superior West Africa release, Africa Stop Ebola, superior in every way, musically and in the informative message that it carried.

The kibbutz movement in Israel is a very poor example to give as to the way forward, not unless suggesting use terror to illegally occupy the land of others, destroy their olive trees, steal their water, carry out ethnic cleansing, in order to establish our idea of what a community should look like.

The future is already here.

Look to the work of Michel Bauwens and FLOK and P2P Foundation.

In Quito, housing coo-ops are reclaiming the ravines and turning into public parks.

We do not need banks, when we can crowd source.

StartJoin is a platform to crowd source for community and cultural projects. It even has its own crypto-currency StartCoin.

Bandcamp facilitates sharing of music, and if you wish to pay, bandcamp facilitates that too.

Crisis stimulates innovation.

Sandy hit New York, the authorities were only interested in getting Wall Street up and running to show businesses as usual. The only help in poor districts, the worst hit, came from Occupy Wall Street, reformed as Occupy Sandy.

Greek economy has shrunk by over a quarter leaving many unemployed and destitute, no longer entitled to free health care, sell off of public assets. People are now organising their own affairs, with Syriza, with its roots in Occupy and opposed to austerity, on the brink of a historic election victory.

eGgaia is not a book I would recommend. Had it been limited to the fictional account of the future, it would have made an interesting pamphlet, but nothing more. It has been padded out with irrelevant material, even worse, much is inaccurate assertions.

It is available as free download, or as a print-on-demand book only the publisher fails to comprehend print-on-demand, and had to be chased for an ordered copy. Irony seems lost on the publisher, inappropriately called Fast-Print.

I would though recommend Revolution and Sacred Economics.

Post-crash economics

December 4, 2014
Eco-Economics

Eco-Economics

Science advances one funeral at a time. — Max Planck

Somehow, we have come to think the whole purpose of the economy is to grow, yet growth is not a goal or purpose. The pursuit of endless growth is suicidal. — David Suzuki

Imagine being taught astronomy and being taught the earth is at the centre of the solar system.

Imagine being taught geology and being taught the earth was flat.

Imagine being taught evolution and being taught all living creatures were created at once.

Imagine being taught economics and being taught free markets and capitalism give rise to efficient distribution of resources.

Imagine being taught economics and being taught the market operates on the basis of rational human behaviour.

Imagine being taught economics and being taught that you can have not only linear growth but exponential growth within a finite system.

Economists did not not predict the crash. A few outside the mainstream did, but they are regarded as mavericks.

The economic dogma being taught at so-called top universities bears absolutely no relationship to the reality of the world outside. One of the worst is Manchester. Manchester economics students when asked, could not answer simply economic questions. They would probably have a better grasp of economics if they attended an Occupy briefing.

When was The Wealth of Nations published?

If the unfettered market, capitalism worked, why were the banks bailed out, why were three major US car companies bailed out?

The existing economic system is broke:

  • massive transfer of wealth from the rich to the poor
  • tax dodging by the rich and global corporations
  • abject poverty and appalling working conditions
  • soul destroying, temporary, part time, de-skilled, zero hours McJobs
  • global corporations granted free reign to rape and pillage
  • war zones where concerned citizens and rapacious corporations are in conflict
  • mass collapse of the number of species
  • climate chaos
  • trashed planet

Those who say it is not, who continue to teach an economic dogma that is clearly false, are protecting the status quo and their own status, reputations tied to a false dogma. They would rather defend a broken system, than address the real issues outside.

When two people meet, a price is agreed, and an exchange takes place, an economic transaction has taken place, both parties are happy. What we cannot do is aggregate all such transactions, call it GDP (Gross Domestic Produce), then use it as some sort of measure of the well-being of a nation, as it is not. If we think it is, all our polices are geared to increasing GDP, rather than looking at real issues that matter.

The massive flood damage that occurred in England winter 2013-2014 incurs a cost to put right the damage. That cost will be reflected in an increase in GDP, less whatever economic activity was lost, but no one would suggest this was a welcome increase in GDP.

But no matter what we do to increase GDP, those attempts to increase GDP have failed.

Austerity has failed, it has simply been used as an excuse for Shock Doctrine, slash and burn of public services.

Greece has seen its economy shrink by 25%.

Quantitative Easing has failed, other than to put money in the pockets of the rich and to inflate the bonuses of bankers.

We have enclosed the commons. Enclosure being when we steal that which formerly belonged to everyone or no one and sell it back to those who once had it for free.

We have enclosed the social commons, the intellectual commons, the spiritual commons, there is nothing left to enclose.

A generation or so ago, childcare was an informal affair, people helped each other. Now people complain they cannot afford childcare.

Childhood has been stolen from children, then sold back to them as computer games, Disney entertainment. Where once children had their imagination, now video games play out their fantasies for them, their adventures are mapped out for them through TV.

People would hear a song, sing along, change it, add new lyrics, now someone owns it.

Copyright kills creativity.

Annette Hanshaw was a well known jazz singer in the 1920s. Now she is unknown. Global corporations own the copyright. No money to be made releasing, and so she remains unknown.

We grew our own food in our back garden, or on our allotment, prepared it, cooked it, served it. Now we buy it shrink-wrapped from the supermarket, ready made, pop it in the microwave, or if that requires too much skill, we visit a restaurant.

People made their own clothes, knitted their own cardigans and jumpers, baked their own cakes.

Once we lose these skills, we never get them back, we do not pass them on, then we have to go out to work, to get the money to pay for the goods and services we were once able to make and do and perform ourselves.

There is a limit to what we can enclose, what we can steal that was once free and sell back. Once we hit that limit, we reach the end of growth.

A factory can slowly slowly increase the productivity of its workers, such that in ten year’s time output per worker has doubled. What then?

  • double the market
  • halve the number of workers

Workers have been increasing their productivity but they have not seen that matched by a pro rata increase in wages. Their surplus has been syphoned off by those who own and control the means of production. This flat-lining of wages was long before recession hit. Now wages have flat-lined for a different reason, productivity has declined, not because the workers are not capable of producing more or are lazy, there is no market for their goods, so less is produced. We either sack workers or keep them on at low wages or on reduced hours.

We saw a brief boom in the financial sector, wizards making money out of nothing, complex financial instruments that no one understood, but who cared, we were making money. Except that were little more than Ponzi get rich quick scams.

Like the mythical creature who consumes everything around him, when nothing left, starts to eat himself. Having enclosed everything there was to enclose, the financial sector engaged in auto-cannibalism.

To gain a competitive advantage, companies innovate, this may mean offering more features we do not want, think smart phone, or dropping the price. As the price falls, less money is made.

Where once local papers sold, through small ads, wanted, cars, houses are sold on the internet. The value of the market created is a fraction of that lost.

Why use a travel agent and tour company when you can go on-line, book a hotel, book a flight? Again the value of the new market is a fraction of the market it destroyed.

The cost of things is tending to zero.

Marginal cost of an e-book or digital music is zero.

If I go to a bank and ask for a million dollars, I will be asked what do I want it for? If I say to buy a wood, to stop it being developed. I will be shown the door. If I say I will clear fell it, sell off the wood, develop the land for housing, the bank will fall over backwards to give me the money.

We employ people at low salary, the government steps in and makes up their wages. In essence, subsidising bad employers. Set a higher minimum wage, many of the Mcjobs will vanish overnight, the companies will go bust, no more junk food outlets, no more processed food factories. Quality fresh food will be able to compete, we may learn, or re-learn old skills, our diet will improve, we will be healthier, health care costs will go down.

Cheap food is only cheap because we externalise the costs.

Cheap clothes are only cheap because we externalise the costs in human misery.

Focus tends to be on public debt.

It is dwarfed by private debt, ie that held by individuals.

It is dwarfed by corporate debt.

The level of debt is unsustainable.

We have an economy that has become dependent upon zombie consumers and private debt, must have latest stuff, must have latest stuff. Fuelled by advertising

The fastest growing sector of the economy is the collaborate commons, sharing, the gift economy. It does not factor into GDP because no money changes hands.

We need different economic measures:

  • circulation of money in the local economy
  • vitality of local business
  • ratio of local shops to High Street chains
  • dirty energy to produce a good or service
  • environmental impact to produce a good or service
  • human labour required to produce a good or service

We often hear of sustainable development, what do we mean by sustainable? We certainly do not wish to sustain the existing system, broke beyond repair.