Thursday, October 09, 2008

Pushing Boundries

I’m frustrated.

I have been following Ran Prieur’s posts about money and the economy. They’re amazing. A few thoughts come to mind after reading them: Most people never have or never will learn about this in or out of school, or if they do they will never see the value in it. As Ran says:

Specifically, I don't expect one in ten economists to agree that interest causes inflation, because interest is to economists as water is to fish. Because of their training, they are simply unable to imagine a world without it.

Another thing that I hear Ran saying is that the whole idea of borrowing money and being expected to pay back more than what you borrowed is one of the main problems with our economic system.

It's true that the payment of interest is now only a minor part of the growing money supply, but he misses the deeper issue: without the idea of interest, the custom that borrowers pay back more than they borrowed, banks would have no incentive to loan money, and banks as we know them would not even exist.

Can you imagine a world without banks?

I picked up my local newspaper yesterday. I rarely ever do this because I don’t have much time to read, and when I do have the time to read I’m either reading books or reading articles like Ran’s on the internet. But what I fantasized about before picking up the paper was seeing an article in the Readers Opinion column talking about alternative money systems like demurrage currency and the Brakteaten money system. After all, those money systems appeal to someone imagining a money system that is not driven by the idea of interest. To my mind, using those money systems would be one of many practical solutions to the economic and other problems we are facing.

Well, I didn’t notice any mention of the demurrage currency or the Brakteaten money system. Perhaps a lack of imagination is the problem. Maybe there was no mention of this because those alternative money systems are still blind spots to most of us, perhaps we need to shine more light on them.

That last thought leads me to an image of John Trudell in Trudell: The Movie sitting in a chair talking about how amongst us there is just not much clear and coherent thought about the problems we are facing. He’s right. In my day-to-day life outside of the internet no one really talks about the problems we are facing, and if they do the conversation doesn't last long. If we’re not going to talk about them we’re surely not going to think about them.

That's why I'm frustrated. I know a better world is possible but we're not close to yet.


Erik said...

I think it's hard for most people to really understand these larger concepts (which have only an abstract relation to our day to day lives) ... it's not how we're wired.

Here's an article you may find interesting:

Curt said...


Do you think Ran's writing is hard for most to understand?

Filip T. said...

I had a dream recently about all banks failing. It brought the economy to an end. It was oddly very vivid, and left me feeling kinda sick when I woke up.

I don't think that would be enough to bring CIV down, but it certainly would be a big factor in the short term.