EXTRACTS from A Book Review by Richard C. Cook (FREE VERMONT MEDIA)
It’s too late for anyone to pretend that the U.S. government, whether under President Barack Obama or anyone else, can divert our nation from long-term economic decline. The U.S. is increasingly in a state of political, economic, and moral paralysis, caught as it were between the “rock” of protracted recession and the “hard place” of terminal government debt.
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Thomas Greco, in his new book The End of Money and the Future of Civilization (Chelsea Green: 2009) , outlines the increasingly familiar story of how things got so bad, and he tells it as well as anyone has ever done. His style is precise and sometimes academic. Behind it, though, is a passion for truth and the type of rock-solid integrity that refuses to sugar-coat a very bitter pill.
More than that, Greco writes about how to change what has gone wrong. His credentials as an engineer, college professor, author, and consultant are impeccable. His book is among the most important written in this decade. It is truly a book that can alter the world and, if taken seriously, give large numbers of people a practical way to survive the gathering catastrophe.
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The modern takeover began in earnest during the Civil War when Congress passed the National Banking Acts in 1863-64 which mandated use of government bonds as bank lending reserves, thereby creating a direct linkage between bank profits and the debt the government was starting to load on the shoulders of taxpayers.
The nation’s fate was sealed with the passage of the Federal Reserve Act in 1913. The deal was that the bankers would control the currency, and thereby the nation’s economy, while the government would be provided with an unlimited amount of inflated dollars to fight its wars.
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But is it really the end, or is there a new world waiting to be born? Greco thinks so. He speaks of the end of an era when unlimited economic growth fed by massive influxes of debt-based money is no longer sustainable. He writes: “That our global civilization cannot continue on its current path seems evident….But I think our collective consciousness is beginning to change. We are becoming aware of limits and are reaching that part of our evolutionary program that says, ‘Stop!’”
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Unfortunately, few progressive economists, including Paul Krugman, Joseph Stiglitz, and Robert Reich comprehend the monetary causes of today’s disasters. Instead of demanding reforms that would make money the proper servant of a sustainable economy, most call for more stimulus spending; i.e., more government debt, along with “reform” of a financial system that is corrupt down to its very DNA.
So do we really need the bankers’ fake currency, today backed by nothing but a federal deficit of $12 trillion and growing by the day?
Greco says we don’t, and this is what his book about. But it’s not about doing without the necessities of life, or heading for the hills with a gun and backpack. Nor is it about important efforts at macro-level monetary reform like those of the American Monetary Institute, Congressman Dennis Kucinich, or advocates for a basic income guarantee. Rather it’s about individuals, groups, and communities taking control of the monetary system at the grassroots level and creating an entirely new basis for trade than bank-owed debt.
Greco writes about “a new paradigm approach to the exchange function.” The solution, he says, “is to provide interest-free credit to producers within the process of mutual credit clearing. That is the process of offsetting purchases against sales within an association of merchants, manufacturers, and workers. It will eventually include everyone who buys and sells, or makes and receives disbursements of any kind.”
Greco is one of the world’s leading experts in describing alternative or complementary currencies. These are self-regulating systems that facilitate “reciprocal exchange,” not using government legal tender but which are still allowed under the currency laws so long as taxes are not evaded.
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The keys, says Greco, are simple: “Promote the establishment of private complementary exchange systems—and use them. Buy from your friends and neighbors wherever possible. Contribute your time, energy, and money to whatever moves things in the right direction.”
Greco also recommends that the unit of exchange for alternative currencies be based on the value of commodities—not necessarily gold or silver, which bankers and governments manipulate, but those commodities readily available within a trading system. State and local governments should do everything possible to protect, encourage, nourish, and participate in these systems.