Articles primarily about economic issues or actions involving economic factors.
Sen. Bernie Sanders is telling the American people what the supporters of Keystone XL don’t want them to hear. The pipeline won’t create jobs, but it will cause the price of gas to increase in the United States.
I just received this from a friend. I’m not surprised by the kidnappers/murderers NOT being Palestinian, nor by the natural gas being the cause of violence against indigenous people-we see this constantly in North, Central and South America.
I just hope those who ARE surprised will do the research to become more aware and then ACT on that awareness.
Violence and racism against indigenous peoples from Africa to the Americas to Ukraine, Palestine, Iraq, Australia(East Timor!) and Tibet has ALWAYS been rooted in this greed for resources.
Please keep the people in all of these myriad conflicts and violence in your prayers. Greed may arise endlessly in the colonized, but Love and prayer have power far beyond the small power of violence and murder.
|“On July 7, 2014 Israel began
a massive assault on the Gaza
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400 tons of bombs, killing over
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you are watching the the number
will be higher.
“Israel’s official justification for
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“After the death of Yasser Arafat,
“With power divided between the
“It’s pretty basic really. These are
“And speaking of morality,
“I’m not going to show you the
If hearing about those bombs falling
“And anyone who would
“The bombing heavily
“Of course it’s no accident that
“The Obama administration is
“But the rockets, the rockets!
Video (under 10 minutes):
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That’s how we grow. Thanks.
by Mark Olalde
Erle Rahaman-Noronha cutting produce on his farm. (Credit: Mark Olalde/IPS)FREEPORT, Trinidad and Tobago – Erle Rahaman-Noronha is not a revolutionary, not in any radical sense at least. He is not even that exciting. In truth, Rahaman-Noronha is merely a man with a shovel, a small farm, and a big dream. But that dream is poised to conquer the Caribbean.
Rahaman-Noronha wants to see ‘permaculture’ – short for permanent agriculture – take root and spreads across the Caribbean, and he is doing his part by teaching anyone who will listen about its benefits.
Joining him is a fluid group of permaculturalists working from their home islands and sharing the same goal: to harness permaculture as a solution to climate change, food and water insecurity, and rising costs of living.
“You can start in your backyard, so there’s no cost. You can implement certain parts of it in your apartment…If you have a porch with some sunlight, you can plant something there and start thinking about permaculture.”
— Erle Rahaman-Noronha, permaculturalist
Author of the manual, Australian Bill Mollison, first used the term nearly four decades ago and since then the idea has spread to Europe and the U.S. Now, the developing Caribbean is beginning to embrace the philosophy of permaculture, especially since 2008’s global recession.
Born in Kenya, Rahaman-Noronha – whose work was recently highlighted in a TEDx talk – fulfilled a keen interest in the environment by studying applied biochemstry and zoology in Canada.
“I’ve always had a strong passion for the outdoors and conservation, but just doing conservation doesn’t make money,” he says with a chuckle. “Permaculture allows me to live on a site, produce food on a site, produce an income, as well as practice conservation.”
Wa Samaki is Rahaman-Noronha’s permaculture farm, and it has been his workplace, classroom, grocery store, and home since he relocated to Trinidad in 1998. Meaning “of the fish” in Swahili, Wa Samaki covers 30 acres in Freeport in central Trinidad.
Although he uses no fertilisers, herbicides, or pesticides, Rahaman-Noronha is able to make a living off the farm’s fruit, flower, lumber, and fish sales. His newest addition is a large aquaponics system, a closed loop food production system in which fish tanks and potted plants circulate water and sustain one another.
With his partner John Stollmeyer, Rahaman-Noronha works to spread awareness of permaculture across the Caribbean, home to nearly 40 million people who are particularly susceptible to climate change.
The pair consults Trinidadian businesses, teaches permaculture design courses (PDCs), and holds workshops everywhere from Puerto Rico to St. Lucia. “How are we going to create sustainable human culture?” Stollmeyer asks. “Discovering permaculture for me was a wake up call.”
Where environmentalism meets savvy economics
The need for conservation is in no small part a result of climate change, especially when the Hurricane Belt covers nearly all of the Caribbean.
Trinidad and Tobago continues to compound the issue as both a major exporter and consumer of fossil fuels. The country produced more than 119,000 barrels of oil per day in 2012 and 1.4 trillion cubic feet of natural gas that same year, all the while boasting the second highest rate of CO2emissions per capita in the world, more than twice that of the United States.
United Nations data dating back to 2005, the last time such statistics were compiled, indicates that industrialised agriculture accounts for 20 percent of greenhouse gas emissions in Latin America and the Caribbean.
In this environment, Rahaman-Noronha’s goal is to become an incubator of conservation start-ups that cannot secure necessary bank loans. Currently, he houses beekeepers and a wildlife rescue center on the farm for minimal rent, and he hopes that list will grow.
One such entrepreneurial mind that passed through Wa Samaki was Berber van Beek, a native of Curaçao who recently moved home after years of wandering the world. Before returning to the Caribbean, she practiced permaculture across Europe and Australia, but when van Beek wanted to develop her skills in a tropical climate, she came to Rahaman-Noronha.
“He gave me a lot of freedom on his farm to make and create a design,” van Beek says, describing a garden of banana trees she planted at Wa Samaki.
In Curaçao, van Beek uses permaculture as more than simply a food source. She realises its social potential and is working to start after-school programmes for at-risk youth who can learn useful gardening skills and the responsibility and respect for nature that come with caring for their own gardens.
In addition, she is soon opening her first large-scale organic gardening class, closely resembling a PDC.
Such initiatives are urgently needed in Curaçao, which is facing a stagnant economy and is currently nursing a youth unemployment rate of 37 percent.
According to van Beek, shifting global climates and markets have major effects on her own island in which nearly everything must be imported. “If you go to the supermarket, look where your food is coming from. Is it coming from Venezuela or is it coming from the U.S. or is it coming from Europe?” she says. “People could be more aware of what to buy and what not to buy.”
The problem, experts say, is regional. According to the Food Export Association of the Midwest USA – a group of nonprofits focusing on agricultural issues – around 80 percent of food consumed in the Caribbean is imported.
The beauty and purpose of permaculture is that it is a system of solutions that can be practiced at any level to combat environmental issues.
“You can start in your backyard, so there’s no cost. You can implement certain parts of it in your apartment if you really need to,” Rahaman-Noronha explains. “If you have a porch with some sunlight, you can plant something there and start thinking about permaculture.”
Naturally, van Beek took his message to heart, keeping a perfectly groomed permaculture garden in her own tiny backyard, using dead leaves as fertiliser and recycled rain and shower-water to sustain the plants.
“Seeing is believing,” she says. It’s her own quiet mantra, spoken when she describes her approach to spreading permaculture, and vocalised when she needs the energy to keep pressing on and to convince others that this is the right path.
Rahaman-Noronha, too, has worked to convert non-believers. From schools who tour the wildlife center and his farm to the several thousand people who watched his TEDx talk online, he is adamant that he has traded in misconceptions for progress.
“I think [the reason] I don’t get challenged…is that I’m not just preaching permaculture,” he says. “I’m actually practicing it.”
© 2014 IPS North America
Permaculture Poised to Conquer the Caribbean | Common Dreams.
Generation Y struggles for cash – but there are lots of ways to save money. From urban foraging to canoeing to work, here’s how to wring the most out of the free economy
Kayaking to work
Monday 17 March 2014 14.32 EDT
It’s 8am on a Saturday morning, and four men are digging in the local park. One furtively scans his surroundings, while another jams his spade through the hard soil. A third sprinkles something over the ground, and the rest fill in the hole quickly, leaving a mound of freshly turned earth. These men are not attempting to dispose of a dead body. They belong to a guerrilla gardening group and they’re trying to plant enough herbs to last the community through the summer.
Nearly 18% of all 18- to 24-year-olds are out of work, and last year saw 3.3 million 20- to 34-year-olds move back in with mum and dad, according to Office of National Statistics (ONS). Some 20% of working 16- to 25-year-olds are also suffering from underemployment – working fewer hours than they would like. It’s difficult to thrive as a young person when real wages are falling 2% year on year, and you’re sharing your kitchen with your dad and the family dog.
But some are trying to make the most of a bad situation. With spare time comes greater opportunity for imaginative resource gathering – guerrilla gardening, for example. Professor Fleura Bardhi, from Cass Business School, believes that a growing number of people are being attracted to the “sharing economy”. Global consumption trends are changing, and “gift exchange” – sharing food, accommodation and transport – is a way to live more economically.
As young people struggle to survive, let alone save, the numbers following a freegan (freegan.info) way of life are also on the rise. Everyone wants to save a buck or two, and freeganism encourages its followers to fight against excessive consumerism and food wastage by reclaiming food that’s been discarded: cue dumpster diving and foraging.
Here are some ways to make the most of the free economy, live life to the full, and still have a little change to spare.
Veggies growing up walls and down drains? Following the belief that anywhere can be utilised and beautified, guerrilla gardeners plant wherever greenery could be sustained, whether that’s on a roof or a roundabout. Richard Reynoldsbegan his blog in 2004 as a way of recording his planting activity around London. Reynolds thinks that gardening in this way is “immensely sustainable, as long as the gardener is committed and the landowner quietly tolerates it”.
The market town of Todmorden, west Yorkshire has become well known for its guerrilla gardening: Incredible Edible Todmorden plants edibles around town on grass verges and in the grounds of the local fire station. Best of all, anyone can pick the herbs they grow, making guerrilla gardening as much about community as it is about a tasty garnish.
There’s currently a debate raging about whether skip-diving, or swiping what the supermarket considers to be out of date, clashes with the law. Technically, “dumpster diving” isn’t illegal, but divers can be pulled up for trespassing on private property, so keep an eye out for loitering security guards. Take a peek at the Frugal Freegan’s videos on YouTube for some freeganspiration.
Go to a high-end restaurant and you’ll notice that foraging is very “now”. But not all foragers are Michelin-starred chefs, nor do they all live near samphire-rich estuaries. In Sheffield, locals keen to forage fruits have set up a project called Abundance. Fruit is picked from private growers with a surplus of, say, plums (with the permission of the owner) and is then distributed to those who need and want the fruit. Similar Abundance projects can be found UK-wide, including in Nottingham and Birmingham. Walking around Elephant and Castle, an inner-city area in London better known for its 1960s tower blocks than parkland, I didn’t find any fruit, but I did locate some wild garlic, nettles (great for tea and soup) and grass. Clearly I’d have had more luck if I’d gone foraging with Penelope Greenhough, founder of Pickling Peckham: the urban forager’s guide. She reckons that “in season it’s possible to survive on basics [like rice or pasta] supplemented with foraging”.
Ask market traders
Vendors are often left with a surplus of food at the end of a day’s trading, and, like anybody who respects food, are often loth to throw it away. It’s best not to just take, though; market stall holders are keeping the community buzzing and need to earn a living, too. That said, popping along at the end of a trading day can result in an excellent assortment of produce. On a recent trip around south-east London’s greengrocers, I collected spaghetti, lettuces, soft, fragrant tomatoes and plump avocados, just approaching ripeness.
Away from the city, adding meat to a freegan diet is possible – if you get permission from a landowner first. Phillipa Meek from County Durham followed a freegan lifestyle for nearly eight months, and, after seeking permission from a nearby farmer, hunted for rabbits and grew food in her back garden. It’s legal to hunt rabbits and rats under UK law, but how much pleasure you’ll get from a rat risotto is debatable. Check outbertc.com/subfive/recipes/cookingrats.htm for some classic rodent recipes.
Long waiting lists … allotments. Photograph: Sophia Evans for the Guardian
Rent an allotment
City dwellers with green fingers who lack garden space could consider signing up for an allotment to seed their own salad. While there are often long waiting lists for allotments, they’re normally relatively inexpensive: researchers at the University of Leicester estimatedthat the average annual rent is around 15p per square metre. Check out Allotment Garden for tips on what to do with your new patch of earth.
Go to temple
If the thought of skinning rabbits and combing the hedgerows for edible mushrooms all seems a bit too Good Life, then there are other options. Churches, mosques and temples all run soup kitchens to help the truly needy, but Rajinder Singh Bhasin, the president of theCentral Gurdwara Temple in west London, says that it is the Sikh tradition to offer hot food to “all visitors without discrimination of sex or creed”. After evening congregation, his temple serves up to 170 free vegetarian hot meals, and on Sundays that number rises to 350.
If designer Gucci isn’t top of your wishlist, then clothing yourself for next to nothing isn’t as tricky as you might imagine. Clothes are more sharable and riper for “gift exchange” than other essential living items, which makes sourcing garments in the free economy easy. Sites like the Freecycle Network, a grassroots not-for profit organisation, and CraigsListoffer up white goods, furniture and clothing for no cost. The premise is simple: specify where you are and what you’re after, and chances are you’ll find someone giving it away. A quick search for “women’s clothes” came up with a “donator” just 800m away from my flat. Some adverts are vague – “bag of clothes”, “women’s coats” – and some specific – “eight pairs of cut-off size 8 Levis”. Free items, with stories behind them; what’s not to love?
Swap until you drop
For clothes lovers who want to try their luck, Mrs Bear’s Swap Shop lets you change your unwanted clothes for items others have brought in. This London-based swap shop makes sure that people get like for like, and only clean, wearable items can be swapped. There’s little chance you’ll bring in a cute pair of dungarees and walk away with waterproof fishing trousers – unless that’s what you’re after, of course. Founder Joanne Walters says: “My customers are experts in thrifty style – a lot of them say they don’t buy clothes any more, and are bored with the poor quality of mass production.” There are swap shops all across the UK from theSwansea Swap Shop to Swapz, an online market place that encourages people to exchange rather than bin their items.
Sewing … learn the basics first. Photograph: Alamy
Make do and mend
When I searched for “women’s clothes” on Freecycle, a huge number of adverts appeared for “bags of scrap material”. The bag I collected from an old lady in north London was bursting with trimmings from tasteful curtains and upholstery. For creative stitchers, it would have been a godsend, but if, like me, you’re more likely to stab yourself with a needle than create a Sound of Music eight-outfit masterpiece, it might be worth learning the basics first. Luckily you can do this for free. Sites like Skill Shareand Professor Pin Cushionprovide free lessons on how to tailor and work a sewing machine.
Low-cost central living
If you don’t fancy living in a squat but want some low-cost, city centre accommodation, take a look at Camelot Property Management. They offer a legal way to bed down in vacant properties – for a small price of course. Camelot advertises its services to property owners as a way to prevent “arson, squatting, vandalism and theft”. The renter is known as “live in, guardian security” but don’t worry – there’s no uniform or truncheon-wielding required. For properties in central locations, the costs are pretty low. A room in a former care home in Bristol starts at £30 a week including all bills, and, if you don’t mind resting your head in a former police station, rooms are available in London’s exclusive W1 postcode from £85 a week. This in an area where the average cost of a room in a flatshare is £260 per week.
One anonymous user of Camelot said that he saw “Camelot as being a sustainable, viable alternative for people who don’t mind not knowing when they are going to have to move”. According to Fiona Hanley, Camelot’s UK marketing manager, nearly half of the people using Camelot are between 25-35. “It’s mainly creative professionals, although we do get nurses and firefighters, too.”
If you want a roof over your head for absolutely no cost, then consider couchsurfing. The original couchsurfing websiteadvertises hosts and houses across the world. In Slovenia, I once stayed with two sisters who loaned me a kayak for the weekend and paddled alongside me, pointing out kingfishers and otters. All this in return for some stories of London life and a pot of vegetable soup I made later that evening. It can be quite feasible long-term in the UK, too. Kathleen Cassidy describes herself as “nomadic” and, as she is not paid for her community work, has spent the last six months living in friend’s spare rooms and on their couches, housesitting and couchsurfing. She rarely knows where she’s going to be living more than four weeks in advance and hasn’t spent longer than four weeks in one place, but says that it keeps her “survival instincts intact”.
When you don’t have an income, it can be hard to know what to offer to welcoming hosts. Cassidy thinks it’s important to repay in kind by contributing to the cooking and cleaning, but she warns that being nomadic isn’t for everybody. “It can feel like work because it’s another thing I’ve got to organise, but I love living with lots of different people. You’ve got to not care about having many possessions. As long as I’ve got essentials covered – food, shelter and social networks – then I’m OK.”
If you don’t have a particularly large (or generous) social network, then accommodation for free is still possible. Try websites such as Mind My Houseand Trusted House Sitters, which bring together house owners and sitters from across the world, providing a ready-made opportunity for nomadism.
Live off the grid
Living self-sufficiently or in a commune can work as a longer-term way to cut costs. Some communes, like Beech Hill Community in Devon, grow their own food and have come up with imaginative ways to generate electricity and dispose of waste. For more information on communal living in the UK,Diggers and Dreamers is a great resource and has lists of communes by region in the UK. Living off the grid with no electricity and no waste disposal is pretty tough to start with, but find an existing community to slot into and it’ll feel much easier – it’s estimated that 25,000 people in the UK follow this lifestyle.
Annual season tickets for trains rose an average of 2.8% this year so sharing a ride to work with a friend makes sense. Websites such as Lift Share and BlaBlaCarcan help to make the ride even cheaper by getting more people in the vehicle. A next-day, one-way trip to Glasgow from Manchester costs just £20 via BlaBlaCar; by train, this journey would cost nearly £70.
Swerve rising gym costs by running to work. Photograph: Corbis
Run, run, run
Council gym prices are said to have soared by £100 in the last 10 years. The answer is to run to work, according to Home Run London, whose slogan reads “Leave the Gym Behind”. Laura Price, a journalist from London, regularly runs to work: “I hate going on the tube at rush hour, and my 5km run gets me home even quicker.”
Scoot around town
Feed your inner child and save some bus money by investing in a micro-scooter. I had a go on a friend’s and crashed into a bollard, but not before I had been overtaken by a child. If, like me, you’re a little clumsy when it comes to small wheels, book yourself on to a scoot-safe course, but expect to be surrounded by minors whizzing about much more gracefully. Samuel Diserens, an analyst from Oxford, uses his scooter to dextrously navigate traffic jams: “it’s easier to control a scooter than a bike. Plus, when I need to hop on the bus I just fold it up and put it in my bag.”
Canoe to work
Yes, you read that right. Thanks to Britain’s industrial heritage, our cities are criss-crossed with rivers and canals, which makes using kayaks as an alternative form of transport a definite possibility. Katy Hogarth, director of Moo Canoes, hopes to make water-borne commuting in the capital more feasible for those who prefer to share their commute with carp and terrapins rather than blank stares and sweaty armpits.
Moo Canoes is also working on creating “access points” for people to secure their kayaks to, and Hogarth adds that “equipment is improving, with high-end collapsible kayaks hitting the market this summer”. However, she recommends starting with a club first as powerful tides on a river “shouldn’t be underestimated”.Kayaking London should be the first port of call to anybody considering kayaking as a feasible alternative to the London rat race, and Canoe England has a comprehensive list of clubs and opportunities in other areas.
I am sharing this especially for everyone who is waiting for and discussing the global currency reval, dinar, dong etc.
This interview discusses some of the REASONS for a currency to have a certain value and for that value to change. These things apply to ALL international trading currencies.
So worth reading so you can look yourself at the global news and determine when and what is likely to happen without waiting for dubious “insiders” and well documented con men to string you along with fish tales.
February 12, 2014
An exchange-rate board in Almaty reflects the fall of the Kazakh tenge on February 11.
The devaluation of Kazakhstan’s tenge comes close on the heels of the devaluation of another major regional currency, the ruble. Is there a connection? RFE/RL correspondent Charles Recknagel spoke with Alex Nice, a Central Asia expert at the London-based Economist Intelligence Unit.
RFE/RL: Kazakhstan is the second economy in the former Soviet space to see its currency devalue in recent weeks. In January, the Russian ruble devalued by 10 percent against the dollar. On February 11, the Kazakh tenge fell by 19 percent against the dollar. Did the fall of the ruble put additional pressure on the tenge, which already was suffering from other factors that have weakened many emerging markets currencies in recent months?
RELATED: Kazakh Central Bank Devalues Currency
Alex Nice: What we have seen since January is a sharp fall in the value of a number of emerging-market currencies against the dollar, including the ruble, which is perhaps the most significant [factor] for most Kazakhs. But there were also a number of [other] factors that were pushing down on the currency since earlier in the year, including a fall in the value of oil prices, weak exports, and a rapid growth in imports….
In general the tenge tends to follow movements in the ruble. The last major devaluation in 2009 likewise followed a sharp fall in the value of the ruble. And the reason for that is partly that they have very similar economies, they are both major oil exporters, but also Russia is one of the main trade partners for Kazakhstan and one of the main consumers of [Kazakh] nonoil exports. Now, if the ruble falls, then the relative price of Kazakh goods in Russia rises, so there is this pressure to lower the value of the tenge in order to maintain some sort of price competitiveness.
RFE/RL: Qairat Kelimbetov, the chairman of the National Bank of Kazakhstan, has said that the government considers the new value of 185 tenges to the dollar to be the proper exchange rate for the currency. Can we expect the Kazakh central bank to hold the rate of the tenge at this level?
Nice: It is very hard to [predict] currency markets but they may have actually devalued [the tenge] slightly too far. It is interesting that the tenge lost 20 percent of its value [to the dollar] compared to, say, the ruble, which has lost 10 percent since January, and they have lower inflation in Kazakhstan. So, I wonder if they have given themselves some leeway perhaps for the currency even to strengthen slightly. But it depends on a number of factors. If the oil price were to weaken significantly over the year, then that would reduce the value of their exports and they may again find it hard to defend the tenge at that level.
RFE/RL: Is the devaluation of the tenge likely to stoke inflation in the Kazakh economy?
Nice: Consumer goods are to a large extent imported from abroad and the prices for all of those are going to shoot up markedly, which is going to push up inflation. Now, in the longer term, as Kazakhstan tries to diversify its economy, a weaker tenge will help domestic producers and perhaps encourage consumers in some areas to buy local produce. But that is a long-term project and in the short term we are going to see a spike in inflation and this is a real problem and I think it is going to cause quite a lot of anger amongst average Kazakh consumers.
RFE/RL: Other Central Asian countries are also closely tied to Russia, either as a trading partner or through remittances. Are we likely to see currency devaluations follow in Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, both of whose economies are heavily dependent upon rubles sent back by migrant laborers working in Russia?
Nice: If we look at Kyrgyzstan and Tajikistan, they are countries with very large current account deficits; that is, they import a great deal more than they export, and they also are very much dependent upon remittances from Russia. Now, the fall in the value of the ruble means that the value of those remittances has gone down in dollar terms and as a result there is going to be downward pressure on the Kyrgyz and Tajik currencies.
RFE/RL: How about Uzbekistan. Any signs the som is also on the way to devaluation?
Nice: In the case of Uzbekistan, of course, you have got the official exchange rate and then the unofficial exchange rate, which is about 30 percent weaker already than the official rate. We have seen the Uzbek som weaken throughout the last year, and I think that is going to accelerate over the course of this year and the black-market rate likewise will weaken. Whether there will be this rapid devaluation [as in Kazakhstan] is hard to tell because in some ways [the government’s] currency and exchange-rate policy in Uzbekistan is very opaque.
RFE/RL: And what about Turkmenistan?
Nice: Turkmenistan, I imagine, will face some of the similar issues simply because, more generally, if we are talking about why emerging-market currencies are weakening, well, the end of quantitative easing in the United States, the U.S. Fed taper, and the fall in confidence in emerging markets, is having an impact on all these countries and I imagine also in Turkmenistan.
I am so grateful to discover this. I’ve been trying for years to explain why money is a trick, a trap, a tool of enslavement and destruction of Earth and all living beings. Luckily Universe is abundant and what I lack in ability or talent others have:-)
Living without money. On first inspection, these three words sound extreme and would seem to involve no small amount of sacrifice. I can understand why. The cultural story that is money has such a powerful hold on our minds today that we have come to believe that we could not possibly ever live without it. Living without clean air, fresh water and fertile soil bizarrely seems a more moderate challenge in comparison. Yet on closer inspection, our reaction towards even the discussion of moneyless living reveals more about the extremity of our own indoctrination, our own conditioning, than it does about the way of life itself. For to see the non-monetary economy in action, one need only go for a simple walk in the woods, cook dinner for a friend or swim in our vast oceans. Every other species on Earth lives without money. Our ancestors had no notion of money, and many peoples still resist it today, even against all the might of the military-industrial complex and the cultural missionaries spreading its Word.
And I myself, after two and a half years of living without money, no longer see it as extreme. Extreme is converting the Earth’s splendour and bounty – its salmon, its magnificent ancient redwoods, its rolling hills, its generous soil, its gushing rivers, its gloriously Wild creatures – and the pageantry of life into meaningless numbers with no intrinsic worth. Extreme is not knowing our neighbours, let alone feeling comfortable enough to ask them for help. Extreme is having a spare room in your house while others sleep on the street. Extreme is spending our lives doing jobs we hate, just so that we can repay the bank money that it created out of thin air in the first instance. Extreme is taking what was freely given to us and then charging another part of Nature for it, only sharing that which was gifted to us if we receive something in return. Extreme is walking towards the precipice as we smugly recycle our tetrapaks. Extreme is letting it all unfold before our eyes, as if somehow we were not powerful enough to stop it.
Yet such views go against everything we are taught from the moment we enter school and begin training to meet the needs of the economy. We learn that financial considerations must usurp respect, compassion and the health of our land. And anyway, why would anyone consider co-creating their own local economy when this big one we already have is so convenient?
The reasons are as varied as the ecological, social and financial crises we have created. For some, it is simply because the dominant economic model makes it almost impossible for them to make ends meet without accruing debt. Others want the sense of freedom and autonomy that comes with being completely self-reliant, avoiding dependence on what they abhor as the brutal machinery of the state and capitalism. Some tell me they strive towards it as a deep spiritual journey, living in the moment and trusting that each day will provide. A few have divulged that they are getting prepared for that apocalyptic scenario we all want to avoid. Many want to do it because they want to reduce their complicity in a monetary economy that seems hell bent on destroying all before it, turning the Earth into a hot landfill site that is a viable home for 50,000 fewer species each and every year.
My own original reasons for moving beyond money were simple: I believed – and still do four years later – that until we reconnect with what we consume, there will always be sweatshops, always be clearcuts, always be oil spills. Money disconnects us, and protects us from being fully exposed to the atrocities that we fund, things that if we witnessed we would never want done in our name. Despite reading lots about the social and ecological impacts of fossil fuels over many years, it wasn’t until I saw the watery eyes of Iraqi refugees in Calais in 2008 that I decided to give up using oil. I believe that until we feel the pain of the Earth and all that dwells on it at the deepest level, our behaviour will not drastically change. Why would it? I also realised that until I connected with Her, I would not understand my interdependence with Her. We believe we are somehow separate from Nature, above Her, and it is here that all our problems begin. Consciously rejecting money reconnects you and places you amongst Nature once again. You see that the air, the water and the soil are not your environment, they are you.
That was the initial impulse for rejecting it. Today there are an almost infinite number of reasons why I believe that moneyless living (which I prefer to call “the localised gift economy”) is the only truly sustainable and non-exploitative economic model available to us. These range from the economic to the ecological, and from the social to the personal, but a short blog is not the place to explore all of that.
Instead, let’s get down to the nitty gritty. If you did decide to give moneyless living a go, what would it mean you have to give up? In general, my experience has taught me that it involves the sacrifice of very little of value, whilst the gains have been immensely rewarding. Sure, money can give us a sense of security and independence. But anyone who has experienced hyper-inflation will testify to the illusory nature of that security, and ‘financial independence’ is simply replacing dependence on neighbours with dependence on more distant people who you don’t have to be nice to. Someone is still growing your food and making your products – you just don’t meet them. I have come to see living with money as living without full and total relationship with the Earth, without interdependency on our communities and without full awareness of the horrors that are inflicted on Nature (including humanity). Money allows you to live with oil and plastics, but without the sight of the collateral damage that is an Iraqi’s tears. Living with money is living without the Wild that currently lies caged within your soul. And it has consequences – the ecological and social mess we see before us today.
Non-monetary economics is not prescriptive – take what suits your purposes and leave the rest. You may want to be moneyless simply for food, or for your shoes, aphrodisiacs or soap. You may just want to travel overland to a cave in Turkey without needing a penny, make your own drum out of a roadkill buck, or produce all your own booze. It was in recognition of this that myself and Shaun Chamberlin, Transition Town Kingston co-founder and author of The Transition Timeline, devised a mechanism called the Progression of Principles (POP) model to help us all on our individual paths. It allows you to make a transition from the economy you live within now (the global, exchange based economy) to whatever economy you would like to be in (which for me is a localised gift economy), progressing with the speed and urgency that feels appropriate to you.
The model is created by you, for you, and there is no ‘right’ or ‘wrong’. For example, my ideal for transport is to walk barefoot, feeling the dew beneath my feet as I tread carefully amongst Nature. But in reality, I’m up to my neck in work. Therefore at the bottom of my personal POP model for transport is where I am now – a bike salvaged from the detritus of industrialised society, in the middle a pair of clogs I made from local wood or a pair of cast-off trainers, and at the top barefoot walking. Using it I can then commit to designing my life in such a way that in two / five / seven years I’ll have made my way to a point where my actions reflect my beliefs, and where my spirituality is applied in the litmus test of the physical world.
Practically speaking, there are many ways you can live moneyless. The purest (least dependent on the monetary economy you are trying to replace) of these is to do it Palaeolithic style. This involves foraging, hunting with stone-age weapons, flint-knapping and making your own shelter, cordage and so on. A difficult option in The Age of the Machine, but a beautiful one to strive for. One rung down from that is Permaculture, which I feel gives the best balance between realism and idealism. Finally, there is the mode of moneyless living that is fully embedded in industrialised society. This involves squatting, eating waste food, and using gift economy websites (such as Freeconomy, Freecycle, Couch-surfing and so on) to meet your needs. None of these options are more right or wrong than the others. Your unique situation will dictate what is most appropriate for you both now and in the future. If you crave freedom and complete connection with the land, then learning to live off its fruits completely is the option for you. However, if you’re an activist campaigning against the atrocities of The Machine (in which we are all easily interchangeable cogs) by using your laptop in a city, squatting and skipping will mean that you can devote all your time to that without having to get a job to pay rent or buy food. Either way, it will also reduce your complicity in the destruction you see around you by simply not investing in it.
Living without money is not extreme, and it is not a sacrifice, but it appears so if viewed through the lens of the dominant cultural stories, the ones that have led to the convergence of crises we face. We know that we need to change the way we live now, and we need to do it drastically, but doing so will look unrealistic until we challenge and change our thinking. Until we fully understand our interdependence with the whole, and reconnect with what we consume, I do not expect to see the fundamental social, political and lifestyle changes that could make our future not only sustainable, but worth living in.
Moneylessness can be a simple practical tool to help you live the life you want. And by doing so, you’ll be an example that there is another way of living, one based on respect, symbiosis and unconditional love, to everyone that you encounter along your way.
Mark Boyle is author of The Moneyless Man and the founder of Freeconomy. His new book, The Moneyless Manifesto (out in November 2012, published by Green Books) explores the entire philosophy behind moneyless living, and offers a complete guide to how to do it yourself.
Photos: Mark drinking tea outside his home (Jose Lasheras), Mark’s home, members of Mark’s local freeconomy group learn to make their own wild beer, cider and wine (Mark Boyle), Foraging for blackberries, its free to read a book (Jose Lasheras)
The Real Crisis Is Not The Government Shutdown
Paul Craig Roberts
The inability of the media and politicians to focus on the real issues never
ceases to amaze.
The real crisis is not the ÃÂdebt ceiling crisis.ÃÂ The government shutdown is
merely a result of the Republicans using the debt limit ceiling to attempt
to block the implementation of Obamacare. If the shutdown persists and
becomes a problem, Obama has enough power under the various ÃÂwar on terrorÃÂ
rulings to declare a national emergency and raise the debt ceiling by
executive order. An executive branch that has the power to inter citizens
indefinitely and to murder them without due process of law, can certainly
set aside a ceiling on debt that jeopardizes the government.
The real crisis is that jobs offshoring by US corporations has permanently
lowered US tax revenues by shifting what would have been consumer income, US
GDP, and tax base to China, India, and other countries where wages and the
cost of living are relatively low. On the spending side, twelve years of
wars have inflated annual expenditures. The consequence is a wide deficit
gap between revenues and expenditures.
Under the present circumstances, the deficit is too large to be closed. The
Federal Reserve covers the deficit by printing $1,000 billion annually with
which to purchase Treasury debt and mortgage-backed financial instruments.
The use of the printing press on such a large scale undermines the US dollar
ÃÂs role as reserve currency, the basis for US power. Raising the debt limit
simply allows the real crisis to continue. More money will be printed with
which to purchase more new debt issues needed to close the gap between
revenues and expenditures.
The supply of dollars or dollar denominated assets in foreign hands is vast.
(The Social Security systemÃÂs large surplus accumulated over a quarter
century was borrowed by the Treasury and spent. In its place are
non-marketable Treasury IOUs. Consequently, Social Security is one of the
largest creditors to the US government.)
If foreigners lose confidence in the dollar, the drop in the dollarÃÂs
exchange value would mean high inflation and the Federal ReserveÃÂs loss of
control over interest rates. It is possible that a drop in the dollarÃÂs
exchange value could initiate hyperinflation in the US.
The real crisis is the absence of intelligence among economists and
policymakers who told us for 20 years not to worry about the offshoring of
US jobs, because we were going to have a ÃÂNew EconomyÃÂ with better jobs.
As I report each month, not a single one of these ÃÂNew EconomyÃÂ jobs has
appeared in the payroll jobs statistics or in the Labor DepartmentÃÂs
projections of future jobs. Economists and policymakers simply gave away a
good chunk of the US economy in order to enhance corporate profits. One
result has been to create in the US the worst distribution of income of all
developed countries and of many undeveloped ones.
In the scheme of things, the enhanced profits are a short-run thing, because
by halting the growth in consumer income, jobs offshoring has destroyed the
US consumer market. As I noted in a recent column, on September 19 the New
York Times reported what I have reported for years: that US median family
income has not increased for a quarter of a century. The lack of consumer
income growth is why 5 years of massive monetary and fiscal stimulus have
not brought economic recovery.
The real crisis cannot be addressed unless the jobs are brought back home
and the wars are stopped. As powerful organized interests oppose any such
measures, Congress will pass a new debt ceiling and the real crisis will
Do you hear any mention of the real crisis in the media? Today I was on an
international TV program for 25 minutes with the chief financial editor of
one of EnglandÃÂs major newspapers. Little doubt but that he was a
good-hearted and intelligent fellow, but he had no capability of thinking
outside the box. He was unable to comprehend my explanations, and resorted
to regurgitations of the mediaÃÂs ignorance or subservience to WashingtonÃÂs
Among his regurgitations was the ÃÂsolutionÃÂ of cutting Social Security. The
chief financial editor of a major UK newspaper did not know that for the
past quarter of a century Social Security revenues exceeded Social Security
payments, and that the Treasury spent the surplus to fund the annual
operating expenses of the government, issuing non-marketable IOUs to the
Social Security Trust Funds.
The chief financial editor also did not comprehend that cutting Social
Security payments also cuts consumer spending or aggregate demand, and sends
the economy down further, thus magnifying the deficit/debt problem.
Because of the serious decline in the US economy caused by jobs offshoring
and financial deregulation, Social Security no longer adds to its surplus.
Social Security payments need the supplement to the annual payroll revenues
of repayments by the Treasury of the borrowed funds.
The only reasons that Social Security is in trouble is that jobs offshoring
and wars have constrained the US TreasuryÃÂs ability to make good on its
debts except by having the Federal Reserve print money. Every job that is
sent abroad does not contribute payroll taxes to Social Security and
Insouciant American economists say that manufacturing is an outmoded source
of employment, but Chinese manufacturing employment is almost equal to the
total US labor force in all occupations, including waitresses and bartenders
and hospital orderlies. ChinaÃÂs economy is growing at a rate of 7.5% in real
terms, while Western economies cannot move forward and some are regressing.
In order to appease Wall Street, the most corrupt institution in human
history, and to prevent Wall Street-financed takeovers of their
corporations, executives destroyed the American consumer market by
offshoring American incomes in order to enhance profits by substituting
cheap foreign labor for US labor.
In my opinion, the US economy is not salvageable in its present form. The
economy is running out of water resources. The supply that remains is being
decimated by fracking. The soil is depleted by glysophate, a requirement of
GMO agriculture. The external costs of production are rising (the costs that
the corporations impose on the environment and third parties) and possibly
exceed the value of the increase in corporate output. Economists are
incapable of independent thought, and elected representatives are dependent
on the private interests that finance their campaigns.
It is difficult to imagine a more discouraging situation.
At this time, collapse seems the most likely forecast.
Perhaps out of the ruins, a new, intelligent beginning might occur.
If there are any leaders.
About Dr. Paul Craig Roberts
Paul Craig Roberts was Assistant Secretary of the Treasury for Economic
Policy and associate editor of the Wall Street Journal. He was columnist for
Business Week, Scripps Howard News Service, and Creators Syndicate. He has
had many university appointments. His internet columns have attracted a
worldwide following. His latest book, The Failure of Laissez Faire
Capitalism and Economic Dissolution of the West is now available
#OccupyVirtually to #DodgeRadsNow
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