Julie Beal, Contributor
“If we understand the nodes that control opinions, we can interpret the data, then intervene ….Why would you want to have a network and not control it? …. Whether it is the Internet, a power grid, or an organization with a CEO at the helm, someone has control.” (Barabasi, speaking at Davos)
Do you ever wonder what the world will look like after the collapse? Would the financiers even let this happen? All the talk of gold, silver, and survival tactics, gives the impression that we’ll just be left to make our own merry way after the crash, but it’s unlikely the elites would let all their power slip away so easily.
The world is shape-shifting; we are transitioning to a new global paradigm whereby the world economy is one of several ‘global systems’, which can be mapped and modelled by ‘network scientists’, who are learning how to control these systems based on mathematically computed predictions, together with trust/risk ratings for each ‘agent’ (or ‘node’) in the economy, garnered from various identity metrics. Ultimately, with the increased sophistication of cognitive computing, the system could be controlled by Big Brother’s Big Brain.
In years soon to come, if you want to freely surf the net, you’ll need to log in to your Identity Provider first. To gain access to buildings, buy tickets, make an appointment, anything really, you’ll have to prove who you are, and that you can be trusted, using your biometrics (stored on a smart card or phone) as proof. This will be important in all transactions, because almost every single thing you do will have an impact on the network, and must therefore be accounted for.
In fact, our physical, mental, and virtual selves will be our ‘assets’, and will be part of the global accounting process, along with the virtual record of all our ‘liabilities’, or negative impact on the earth. This process will produce our new economy; a manifestation of the final synthesis of the ‘Hegelian dialectic’: the communitarian ethos of Agenda 21 places people and nature in perpetual conflict, the spark of which creates the economy. Think of it as a system of social credits, carbon debits, or:
The world is full of sensors, feeding data to the matrix in real-time, creating a virtual mirror of the real world. All data has value, and these values form an intricately linked network, or ecosystem. In recent years, instead of this being merely perceived value, measurements of natural and social capital, have been introduced to give an equivalent value, i.e. a price. This process is accelerated by the communitarian ethos spreading globally; that we all have rights and responsibilities, in particular to serve our ‘community’ and reduce our carbon footprint. These principles are also to be found enshrined in many digital currencies, which are growing quickly around the world.
Thus, as our current system collapses, new currencies are being formed, based on the value of nature, people, data and services. Key figures in finance are pushing this process forward; the New Economists have managed to sway the Occupy movement with their insistence that ‘happiness matters’, and promises of complete reform. As the P2P (peer-to-peer/collaborative) economy blooms, and digital community currencies gain traction, banks (and telcos) may come to play a new role; as mediators of trust.
The New Economics
Consider the current financial system so doomed it’s already dead and decaying – the daily news stream keeps us busy picking over the bones of the old economy. We know full well the fiat system is corrupt; even the mainstream media has been reeling out stories for years, tutting and sighing over yet more greedy bankers and financial glitches. The overall message: this is the end of the road for fiat money, and even capitalism, and something must be done.
At the same time, other narratives are being formed, giving rise to new memes and expectations – armed with the rhetoric of Agenda 21, the elites have been preparing us for the ‘Great Transition’, or transformation, and are quietly shaping an alternative to the present economical financial system. The central tenets of mainstream economics have been upturned by the New Economics, and key financiers are in agreement on three main points:
1) There is a need to ‘value’ natural assets, as per Agenda 21 and the push for sustainability and social equity; metrics have been devised to measure, then price, nature. This process is also in full swing when it comes to ‘valuing’ human, and social, capital. Human capital is how much an individual is worth to, say, UK plc; and social capital refers to the financial returns to be gained from the cumulative value of people’s interactions, or what they produce as a group. The New Economists maintain these measures should provide an alternative to GDP.
2) Community currencies should be promoted, financed, and nurtured, as a means to foster innovation for commerce, and increase resilience and social capital in local networks. Once they reach critical mass, they can be standardized to create a digitized global common tender, such as the Eternal Coin, a concept being investigated by the Long Finance Group.
3) The economy is subject to reflexivity – this is a concept promoted by George Soros who for many years has argued that we are not rational agents, as per the current model, and that people react to others, and to events, when making financial decisions, which in turn affects other people’s decisions, and so on. In more recent years, a huge scientific undertaking has been underway to study this idea, since big data has enabled computer simulations of these complex adaptive systems. It is a multi-disciplinary area, known mainly as the study of complexity, using social agent simulations, etc., and is being used to rationalise extensive surveillance (the data can be used to inform public policy), and to make predictions about people.
The rhetoric of the New Economics has attracted a great many idealists, due mainly to the fluffy-bunny loveliness of what it promises: world-wide harmony, happiness, and sustainability. But when you realise how many global elites are advocating this system, you start wondering just what’s in it for them.
It’s important, then, to look to the consequences of such a system – how it would be in the long run. This is about creating markets for the ‘new capitalists’, and consolidating power over natural and human assets. It is the only way to fully operationalise Agenda 21, and balance the ‘three Es’. All of the world, and all of her people, are to be quantified, commodified, and traded. It is a tool of global control, and the ‘values’ it espouses morph horribly into cold hard equations: a price for everything.
The economic system is undergoing a controlled demolition; as part of this, there have been lambs led to the slaughter, to serve as icons of the collapse, and to justify the new economic system. Many popular movements are converging on precisely this issue, and the meme of revolution is everywhere.
However, it is vital to understand that key global players are funding and promoting the New Economics, and that the concepts it espouses have been widely popularised and entrenched, especially by George Soros through speeches he has given for years on reflexivity, and in recent years, through his Institute for New Economic Thinking (INET), which is now teamed up with the Oxford Martin College in the UK. INET presented their concepts to the World Economic Forum, at Davos.
John Fullerton is Founder and President of the Capital Institute, and the principal of an investment firm dealing in high impact sustainable private investments. He worked for JP Morgan for 18 years, managing capital markets and derivatives businesses around the world, and is also executive director of Soros’ INET.
Rob Johnson also worked for JP Morgan, and is an executive director of INET. Both Fullerton and Johnson sit on the Council of Advisors for a think-tank called ‘Redefine’, which advises governments on key policy issues.
There are numerous other organisations expounding the new economics, convinced it’s the answer to all our woes; in the UK, the nef (new economics foundation) has been active for years, and has been working in partnership with the European Union. A key figure of the nef, Hazel Henderson, is a member of the Club of Rome, which has also played an active part in promoting the new economics.
Andrew Haldane, from the Bank of England, spoke at Soros’ New Bretton Woods conference (‘Paradigm Lost’), and has given a number of speeches in support of the new economics.
Joseph Stiglitz is an INET Advisory Board member, and proponent of new metrics for the green economy. Stiglitz and others in the new economics movement have been actively involving Occupy.
The New Economy Working Group is another organisation with the same highly moralistic agenda:
…. we envision a healthy planetary system of cooperative, equitable, locally rooted, rule-based market economies that:
- Provide everyone the opportunity for a healthy, dignified and fulfilling life
- Restore and maintain the vitality of Earth’s natural systems
- Grow the relationships of strong caring communities
- Encourage economic cooperation framed by rules for enterprises and the market that reflect the public interest and democratically determined priorities
- Allocate resources equitably to socially and environmentally beneficial uses, and
- Support the democratic ideal of one-person, one-vote citizen sovereignty.
This is the hallmark of the new economics – its values are sound, but ridiculously idealistic. However, there is scant discussion of the administrative system it entails (such as intense surveillance), nor any of the long-term consequences (which this article will explore).
NEWGroup functions as an informal alliance of the Institute for Policy Studies (IPS) as an initial policy think tank partner, YES! magazine as an initial media partner, the Business Alliance for Local Living Economies (BALLE) as an initial business network partner, and the Living Economies Forum as an initial system design partner.”
Going ‘beyond GDP’
GDP (‘gross domestic product’) is the measure used globally to assess the economic performance of each country. At the 1992 Earth Summit in Rio, 170 nations signed up to Agenda 21, which included Article 40, meaning they ”…pledged to overhaul GDP to reflect infrastructure, social capital, unpaid work, and environmental assets”.
‘Going beyond GDP’ is now quite the fashion, one that extends across the board from the Agenda 21 army, to the globalist financiers, and even the Occupy movement. This new way of thinking is the signature of the ‘new economists’, and stresses the need to account for externalities, i.e. to measure, and put a price on, aspects of nature and people, and the data and services they provide. This process uncovers ‘hidden assets’, such as the value of voluntary work, and benefits brought by nature, such as tourism. This is said to give a better picture of the overall progress a country is making; and there are already many measuring systems (metrics) being used to facilitate the pricing of aspects of both the green economy, and the social economy.
The movement has gathered pace significantly over the last few years, especially since the ‘Beyond GDP’ conference in 2007, hosted by the European Commission, European Parliament, Club of Rome, OECD and WWF. Speakers included:
- Hans-Gert Pöttering (President of the European Parliament)
- José Manuel Barroso (President of the European Commission)
- Kristalina Georgieva (Director, World Bank)
- Enrico Giovannini (Chief Statistician, OECD)
- Hazel Henderson (Club of Rome)
- Lothar Meinzer (Director, BASF)
The United Nations is playing a leading role in implementing this system; earlier this year, for instance, a high level meeting on Wellbeing and Happiness: Defining A New Economic Paradigm was convened by the Prime Minister of Bhutan, Jigmi Y Thinley, following the 2011 UN General Assembly motion which called on governments to promote sustainability, happiness and wellbeing policies, rather than focus merely on GDP. Key attendees included Nobel laureate economist Joseph Stiglitz, former Australian deputy prime minister Tim Fischer, UN Secretary-General Ban Ki-moon, HRH Prince Charles, OECD chief statistician Martine Durand, and Indian ecological activist Vandana Shiva. At the conference, Hunter Lovins, founder of Natural Capitalism, proclaimed,
We must move rapidly from words to action if the 99% are to find a path to a future that is both just and sustainable. One important step will be to convene an international forum capable of forging agreement on the key principles and institutions for a new, sustainable economic paradigm – a Bretton Woods agreement for the 21st century.
Also in attendance were more than “600 delegates, including heads of state, Nobel laureates, spiritual, business and community leaders.”
Then, at the UN Rio+20 summit in June, the Corporate Eco Forum and the Nature Conservancy called for natural capital to be incorporated into accounting systems; the initiative was backed by huge corporations, including Lockheed-Martin, Nike, Unilever, the Coca-Cola Company, Dow Chemical and Disney, with the release of a new report, the New Business Imperative: Valuing Natural Capital. The report complements all the other initiatives which promote ‘going beyond GDP’, such as the UN’s Natural Capital Declaration, which “… calls for financial institutions to incorporate natural capital considerations into the risk assessment procedures they undergo before making a loan, equity, bond or insurance products-related decision”, and the “leaders of 37 banks, investment funds and insurance companies” agreed to work towards this end.
Bhutan is the testing ground for this new accounting system, and has begun to translate the values of the ‘hidden economy’, and incorporate them into their National System of Accounts. This involves assigning monetary figures to nature, and the well-being of its people, as well as the services they perform, such as caring for a sick relative. Assigning monetary values to such natural ‘assets’ moves them closer to becoming commodified, as has happened with carbon.
‘Sustainability’ comes to signify the endlessly self-perpetuating stock of natural assets: people and nature endlessly reproduce as a self-replenishing stock of capital. Systems within systems, which can be quantified, simulated, and manipulated.
Ben Bernanke recently voiced agreement with measures that go beyond GDP, asserting that the “ultimate purpose of economics… (is) …to understand and promote the enhancement of well-being.”
The appeal of the new economics lies in its apparent concern for the earth, the health of her people, and holistic thinking, but nobody’s thinking about the damage to our health caused by surveillance and rationing. Agenda 21ism is leading to a system of imposed individual allowances, and monitoring of populations to assess well-being. This will rely on citizen surveys, self-reporting, and bodily sensors. Are we all to be subject to regular mobile phone surveys to assess our physical, mental and financial health?
The United Nations Global Pulse initiative aims to harness data from sensors and phones and perform real-time analytics on the data to help map and understand “trends in well-being over time”; partnering with Global Pulse is a company called Jana, which has delivered mobile phone SMS surveys to millions of people in the developing world, combining the survey data with “ information about economic status, gender, age, literacy, etc.”) to assess well-being, and help governments plan their public policies.
Collecting data on citizens’ well-being is a huge invasion of privacy, and assigning monetary values to intangible aspects such as emotions is a big step towards the commodification of the self, where what you are is what you’re worth.
As P2P payment systems grow, and people want to transact remotely, the need to measure trust becomes a fundamental requirement. Intermediaries are required to facilitate this trust between peers and businesses, opening up huge possibilities for data overlords. And of course, there are others who can benefit from this information – perfect fodder for the policeman’s criminal prediction machine, to name but one.
What’s more, measuring trust facilitates global social control – network science has revealed that all physical networks operate according to universal laws, though social networks have the problem of mind (humans are irrational creatures) and so are less predictable. Trust metrics and game theory help the system control relationships between nodes, by increasing the predictive potential.
The New Economics represents the New Morality; social justice and ecological accounting are considered as human rights, and a global responsibility – it can also be used to justify population control. After all, if it’s been measured, it’s scientific and evidence-based, and therefore rational, right?
P2P not P2B? Exploiting the Network
Like Occupy, and peer-to-peer, or P2P, networks, community currencies currently signify ‘power to the people’ and grassroots change that challenges the status quo. However, it is relatively easy for such power to be subverted by the elites, and used to their own globalist advantage. Network science has revealed that people form complex adaptive systems, and are naturally self-organising. Strong relationships developed at the local level lead to greater resilience, innovation, creativity and, perhaps most importantly, the building of ‘social capital’. Businesses are already profiting from this ‘localised’ behaviour – investors are turning to microfinance and crowdfunding, as well as using the power of P2P networks to source the right individual for the job (i.e. ‘microtasking’, for instance, Microsoft’s Mechanical Turk).
Businesses have also been perfecting their own network resilience, with the same networking model, only it’s B2B (business to business). To satisfy the demands of Agenda 21, businesses have had to enact corporate social responsibility initiatives, and to prove how well they are doing, new ‘indicators’ have been developed, which can be used to translate ecological and social good into dollars and cents, pounds and pence. (source, PDF)
And large multi-nationals are beginning to consolidate networks locally, in a way which allows them to gain tighter control over the various links in the supply chain. This is known as ‘creating shared value’ and is said to be so comprehensive across society that CSR programs will no longer be necessary. Nestlé has already made the process successful:
At Nespresso, Nestlé also worked to build clusters, which made its new procurement practices far more effective. It set out to build agricultural, technical, financial, and logistical firms and capabilities in each coffee region, to further support efficiency and high-quality local production. Nestlé led efforts to increase access to essential agricultural inputs such as plant stock, fertilizers, and irrigation equipment; strengthen regional farmer co-ops by helping them finance shared wet-milling facilities for producing higher-quality beans; and support an extension program to advise all farmers on growing techniques. It also worked in partnership with the Rainforest Alliance , a leading international NGO, to teach farmers more-sustainable practices that make production volumes more reliable. In the process, Nestlé’s productivity improved.
Companies are being exhorted to partner and team up, to collaborate together to achieve the same ends. This will take the shape of ‘geographical clusters’, where each sphere of production is tied to specific areas, known as ‘glocalism’, or thinking globally but acting locally. This ‘integrative thinking’ creates ‘communities of interest’ – shared value and common goals – at the local level, creating more resilient networks for international operations.
In ‘Viral By Design: Teams in the Networked World’ (Harvard Business Review blog; April 2, 2012), Zachary Tumin and William Bratton discussed “collaboration in the digital age”, focusing on the successes of Kony 2012 as well as “the OMGPOP team’s March 2012 breakout of Draw Something, a Pictionary-like game”, which are used as evidence of the power of viral marketing. They argue,
“From Nikes to K-12 curricula, drone strikes to personalized medicines, teams can mass produce unique solutions for anyone”.
Now Google has launched ‘Solve for X’, which crowdsources innovation to solve “global problems”. Even the police can benefit from crowdsourcing of reports on ‘suspicious’ behaviour, with initiatives like ‘see something, text something’.
One of the main benefits of crowdsourcing for corporations is that it capitalises on ‘hidden assets’, such as un-utilized skills and knowledge. This network exploitation is now being extended to digitised community currencies.
Don’t be fooled by the promise of empowerment offered by community currencies (CCs), because as long as they are digital, that power can be usurped. We need real cash to avoid being tracked and traced. Keep in mind also the way the system would play out if CCs were to proliferate globally – yes, the system would collapse, but in its place would come the mediators and governors to manage the relationships between the nodes of the network, the key function of which is trust (risk) – and this can be largely controlled by aggregating identity credentials and reputation ratings, and using network science to make predictions and control the network.
There are several important consequences of global alternative currencies to bear in mind;
1) They are digital! All transactions can be tracked and traced! No more cash!
2) Using digital money promotes the use of smart phones and identity management.
3) They are expected to dominate the current system; once there are plenty in operation, and people want to do business with someone from outside of their community, the banks and/or telcos will be ready to step in to offer exchange platforms/trust mediation.
4) When all currencies are based on the values of Agenda 21 (i.e. doing social good, and reducing the carbon footprint) they all represent the same thing. As Stan Stahlnaker (creator of Ven) has said, the currencies would then acquire a singular value, and become one global currency.
5) The community currencies are resource-based, and of all the many ‘indicators’ or metrics used to assess value in resources, there is one that could do the job of them all: ‘emergy’ (see below).
6) The elites want to eliminate cash, and are funding and promoting community currencies, which will create a fully digitised network of networks, and enable analysis through global systems science.
The drive to eliminate cash and make all payments electronic has been stepped up since the formation of the Better Than Cash Alliance, which claims to be empowering people in developing countries “one transaction at a time”. The Alliance is made up of Visa, Citi, the Bill & Melinda Gates Foundation, the Ford Foundation, Omidyar Network, U.N. Capital Development Fund (UNCDF), and the U. S. Agency for International Development (USAID,) and is calling on governments and the private sector to “commit to make the transition”: Peru, Kenya, Colombia, and Republic of Philippines have already committed.
Kenya has Mpesa; Ghana has Tigo; whilst in the Phillipines they are using G-Cash. Whilst the developing world is using national digital currencies, in the West there is a proliferation of regional (grassroots, resource-based) currencies formed to serve a local community.
The most well-known virtual currencies are those which are global, and include Bitcoin, and virtual credits gained from online games and brand affiliation. The European Central Bank has just released a report into these currencies, (‘Virtual Currency Schemes’; October, 2012), in response to the impact the new currencies are having on the ‘real’ economy. The ECB is concerned that the currencies have no legal status, and are issued by private companies, thereby excluding the central banks, and bypassing regulation:
Virtual currency schemes are relevant in several areas of the financial system and are therefore of interest to central banks. This, among other things, explains the ECB’s interest in carrying out an analysis, especially in view of its role as a catalyst for payment systems and its oversight role.
The report concludes that the main risk posed by these currencies is damage to the reputation of the ECB as a result of them being used by criminals – and that although it is not the legal duty of the bank to take action, it is felt the ECB has a responsibility to examine developments and make “an initial assessment” of virtual currencies, due to the “characteristics shared with payment systems”. This refers to the interaction, or interplay, of the two monetary systems; the more this happens, the more need will be felt to intervene – virtual currencies have attracted the attention of the law, and the military.
However, it is far more important to turn attention to the localised, thoroughly value laden, community currencies which have sprung up across 38 countries. There are now over 500 of these currencies, which are felt by those who participate to free them from the system, and give them back their power. They make use of skills in the community to fulfil public services, and strengthen ties in the local network. They are also being heavily promoted by the new economists, along with the tenets of Agenda 21, i.e. the need for social equity (and cohesion) and the need to ‘be green’. The Brixton Pound, for instance, uses the Monea ICT platform, which is a partnership between nef, the Transition Network and QOIN (a Dutch CC foundation). Community currencies fit in perfectly to the green economy (save the earth), and the social economy (the good of the collective) – all aspects of which are currently being measured then costed. In other words, these intangible aspects are already part of the ‘real’ economy, and are set to become commodified, as has happened with carbon.
Stewart Wallis from the new economics foundation presented the Brixton pound at Davos this year, noting that his organisation has been the most involved in getting governments to measure well being. There is even an International Journal of Community Currency Research. The European Union recently awarded the Transition Network first prize in the European Economic and Social Committee’s Civil Society Prize and has also implemented the Community Currencies in Action project (CCIA), to,
… design, develop and implement community currencies across NW Europe; providing a rigorously tested package of support structures serving CC-practitioners and the general public. Knowledge transfer across the partnership will drive the innovative development of a centralised, formalised and empirically driven set of tools that can be picked up and used by various governmental and non-governmental actors at a community level, and that provides a rigorously tested package of support structures to facilitate the development of CCs across NWE and promote CCs as a credible vehicle for achieving positive outcomes.
Community currencies have also captured the interest of the Long Finance Group, whose sponsors include the City of London Corporation, the Qatar Financial Centre, and Gresham College.
With a focus on sustainability (the long term), the group is seeking the answer to the question ‘When would we know our financial system is working?’ Running four programmes – the London Accord, Financial Centre Futures, Meta-Commerce, and the Eternal Coin – the group plans to:
- expand frontiers
- change systems
- deliver services
- build communities
Last year the City of London Corporation and Recipco released a report called, ‘Capacity Trade and Credit: Emerging Architectures for Commerce and Money’, which examined multilateral reciprocal trade amongst businesses, from which new currencies have arisen.
In other words, business barter works according to the same principle as CCs, in that a network of connected and interested entities exchange goods and services with each other instead of using money. Capacity trade has helped give rise to exchange platforms, which act as intermediaries between companies; they assess the value of the goods or services available, matching the needs of one business to another. The process of assessing value has given rise to a standardised unit of exchange between companies, i.e. a form of currency.
Recipco, for instance, is a private firm which offers a platform for capacity exchange – businesses can barter goods and services with each other, instead of using fiat money. This can be done to get around the problem of firms not having enough funds to pay for what they need at the time, as well as freeing them from transaction costs. Another advantage is that businesses can make use of ‘idling capacity’ – there are times when empty offices or hotel rooms are lying empty, or skills are being under-utilised, so exchanging them with another company that can make use of this capacity increases profits, with both fiat, and CSR, value. to facilitate intermediation between businesses, Recipco has developed a new “liquid unit of exchange” called the “Universal Trading Credit”, or UTU – a commercial community currency:
The social purpose aspect of Recipco’s business is paramount to its success. The Company’s Universal Trading Unit (UTU) is designed to serve as a unique trusted unit for the exchange of value that addresses many of the systemic issues in the current global monetary economy and is capable of increasing the sources of capital for individuals or organizations with real economic capacity. The UTU meets many of the demands for a universally accepted unit of exchange, and as such, carries with it a potentially significant global social impact, ultimately contributing to a more inclusive, fair and just economy.
Over the past few years, as part of the Company’s social purpose development, the Company has compiled an impressive Advisory Board and management has commenced relationships with a number of leading global charitable and social purpose organizations including the United Nations, the Carter Center, Youth Business International and the Clinton Global Initiative.
Reciprocal trade has been around for decades; The WIR (Wirtschaftsring) was formed in 1934 in Switzerland, making it one of the oldest complementary currency systems in existence. There is also the World Currency Unit (WOCU), and Ormita, which is “the world’s largest multilateral trading system”. However, neither Ormita nor the WIR wish to be members of the International Reciprocal Trade Association.
Ormita, Recipco, and the new economics foundation, were amongst a few dozen organisations represented at the capacity trading roundtable organised in response to the City of London Corporation’s update to last year’s report (‘Capacity Trade and Credit: Update’), which concluded,
… multilateral reciprocal trade using common tender is an emerging sector with the potential to create complementary credit systems alongside traditional financial credit. These systems should increase trade and contribute to sustainable economic growth based on productive capacity rather than credit provided by banks, and could generate wider social benefits. The report also found that a clearer, more solid regulatory framework might encourage more rapid development of the multilateral reciprocal trade sector.
The update report also examined some of the many community currencies that have been springing up in response to the financial crisis:
EU-wide research is underway to assess the impact of complementary currency systems in specified cities. The two year project includes the Monea partnership (QOIN, nef and the Transition Movement).
NESTA is also granting research funds including one to examine platforms and mechanisms that promote reciprocity – for example the use of time credits, points systems or other complementary currencies to create a more reciprocal relationship that values giving and incentivises people to volunteer and get involved. Another grant will be given for research into platforms that make use of idling capacity, for example models, market places and enterprises that enable people or organisations to share, exchange and redistribute assets, skills and resources, particularly where these can be shown to build relationships and social capital to deliver public benefit.
It was also revealed that a team of delegates representing the UK government would be visiting Switzerland to find out more about the WIR Bank.
A whimsical impulse is said to have spurred Adrianna Huffington to set up the ‘Move Your Money’ project, which is campaigning to get people to “move their money to local financial institutions like small community banks and credit unions”, in a bid to reduce support for the ‘too big to fail’ banks which caused the “worst financial crisis since the Great Depression”, and to take back the power into the hands of the people.
Emergy does it all
The Long Finance Group has many more fascinating areas of innovation they are exploring, such as the “eternal coin” and “confidence accounting”, all of which fit with the concepts proposed by the New Economists, and at their Autumn conference this year, the focus was on “green growth and global health challenges”: how to measure well-being, in terms of ‘going beyond GDP’.
Denis White, from Oregon State University (and a former researcher at US EPA) gave a keynoteaddress on ’emergy’( “Energy & Emergy – Measuring Well-Being Among Nations”) and how it can be used as a universal accounting unit, which can be used to indicate a country’s level of sustainability and self-sufficiency.
Based on the laws of physics and thermodynamics, emergy is understood as “the available energy required directly and indirectly to make something” or produce work. The theory is derived from energy systems principles; for instance,
The food chain can be thought of as an energy transformation chain. At each transformation step some energy is degraded and some is passed to the next step in the chain.
It deals with networks within networks, facilitating understanding of their complexity, and thus control of the systems. There are a bewildering array of indicators currently being used to assess the value of natural and human capital, each with its own special application; the most widely used include the Human Development Index (UNDP), the Happy Planet Index (new economics foundation), the Environmental Performance Index (Yale & Columbia Universities), and the Ecological Footprint (Global Footprint Network).
However, emergy, or “energy memory”, provides one single unit of measure enabling full accounting of all goods, services and information in terms of their environmental, economic and social impact. This unit of measure can therefore be used to assess anything, from the micro- to the macro-level: a “solar emcalorie” is proposed as the basic unit of measurement for all ecosystem processes, such that wind energy has a value of 1,500 solar emcalories, whilst:
- Organic matter, wood, soil = 4,400
- Potential of elevated rainwater = 10,000
- Chemical energy of rainwater = 18,000
- Mechanical energy = 20,000
- Large river energy = 40,000
- Fossil fuels = 50,000
- Foods = 100,000
- Electric power = 170,000
- Protein foods = 1,000,000
- Human services = 100,000,000
- Information = 1 x 1011
- Species formation = 1 x 1015
Using energy futures as money was an idea explored in detail at this year’s First International Social Transformation Conference , attended by members of the Club of Rome. Sponsors of the conference included the new economics foundation, the Global Round Table, Ethical Markets,Community Forge, and The World Academy of Art and Science (this latter has also worked with the Club of Rome on how to change the economic paradigm.
Emergy research (supported by the United Nations Environmental Program) was presented at this year’s Tesla conference, which looked at resource-based, or energy, currencies, which described how an individual allowance can be calculated for each person, based on the size of the global population. This is called a “solar share”, or personal limit, which those in the Western world are vastly exceeding – “the average USA citizen consumes 4.2 E 16 solar emjoules per year, which is 19 times more than their global allocated allowance.”
The annual emergy flow per person is hypothesized to be an index of the overall standard of living that includes environmental and economic contributions to the quality of life. This assumes that the people living in the system actually benefit from the energy used there. Quality of life is also indicated by the emergy in electricity use as a fraction of total use. This ratio is a measure of the relative importance of the higher transformity activities of people, and therefore, it should be correlated with the contributions of technology to higher standards of living.
A wealth of research was also presented at the 7th Biennial Emergy Research Conference in January, 2012.
Emergy really does tick all the boxes the new economists require: measurements of anything, so there would be no need for lots of different measurements, or years of standardisation. Also, it embodies all the findings of network science, such as the self-organising principles of networks, hierarchies, and complexity, making it ideal for social agent simulation and new economy accounting methods. Emergy also deals with life cycles , which fits the bill of the “cradle-to-cradle” design concept, which encourages the use of biomass in manufacturing, because it is part of the overall ecosystem cycle. This is part of a trend towards bio-mimicry in science. It would seem that Howard Odum was a visionary – although he could not have known about the future advances in computation and mathematical algorithms, it was over thirty years ago that he wrote,
[Humanity] is embedded in a complex world of confusing cues threatening to overwhelm [us] psychologically as much as physically…. Science is unlikely to help if it continues to focus on atoms and the short term…. complexity must be reduced to essentials if complexity is to be overcome as an impediment to understand and correct action, and this means modeling. The specific tool envisioned is overview models that are macroscopic in viewpoint but minidimensional in complexity – ‘macroscopic minimodels’ …Just as an artist seeks to capture an impression of what he views, scientists also must find ways to suppress detail and formulate the subjective qualitative essence of facts and figures.
As P2P culture thickens, the banks seem poised to lose their power; community currency activists believe they are bypassing the system and just won’t need banks any more. Andrew Haldane, Executive Director for Financial Stability at the Bank of England, asserted in a speech earlier this year,
With open access to borrower information, held centrally and virtually, there is no reason why end-savers and end-investors cannot connect directly. The banking middle men may in time become the surplus links in the chain. Where music and publishing have led, finance could follow. An information web, linked by a common language, makes that disintermediated model of finance a more realistic possibility.
However, once there is a tipping point, where alternative currencies are being used more than fiat money, the need will arise for intermediaries, who are able to facilitate trust between agents – people will need a third party to assess risk levels, and to verify identity.
Stalnaker believes that a variety of currency/credit systems operating together will create “a richer tapestry of value sets”: when these have reached critical mass, the lead will naturally arise for “an exchange system that can calculate relative shifting value between entities on a P2P level”.
In 2000, Tobias Kiefer anticipated the growth of internet payments, in “The Future Role of Banks in Electronic Commerce – Trust as the Crucial Factor of Success in ‘Business Enabling’” and the way this would affect banks:
From a strategic point of view, e-commerce therefore requires the banks to think back to their primary functions: not as a ‘one-size-fits-all’ modern service provider, but starting from the origins of the banking industry and from developments in industry around the turn of the century. On this basis, a functional service can then be developed whose content and function will, in all probability, largely resemble traditional banking business: the transformation of trust, maturities and risks. Sure: there is a kind of chicken-and-egg problem, because the transaction partners need matching technologies and codes. But banks with their inter-bank relationship and the evolutionary bank-customer relationship should have a large potential to penetrate this market. Despite all the technological advances, the laws of economics and their implications ultimately remain unchanged. Tomorrow’s banks will be obliged to assume (core) functions that can be subsumed under the heading of “trust mediation”. Ideally, their position as ‘trust mediaries’ will offer the market something that rarely ever exists in practice: a genuine ‘winwin’ situation for the originating transaction partners and the intermediaries alike.
Identity management, and the technology is relies on, are at the heart of this issue. Trust is assessed from identity credentials, and online rating systems, as well as any clues garnered from the digital footprint.
We are living through the time of transition – a complete restructuring of the global financial architecture is in full swing, spurred on by the New Economists, who have been sweet-talking the Occupy activists into promoting the green economy and the social economy, promising the end of interest, and ensuring accountability by controlling risk and fraud. The Occupy movement is to be the bridge between the mainstreamers and the alternatives.
Stipulating individual allowances is Agenda 21 extremism, yet to come. However, after decades of corporate social responsibility programs, the buck is now being passed down to us, so that we will all bear the individual accountability to contribute to our own, and each other’s , well being, and to the health of the earth. Doing so will earn us credits and offset our liabilities in the new accounting system. The main aim of this global governance structure is to control the overall balance of the global ecosystem, as part of the ‘social credits, carbon debits’ system of rights and responsibilities – the communitarian way.
As the Daily Bell concluded,
It may be what the elites have in mind but we don’t have to endorse it because it ‘sounds good’. It didn’t work when it was tried. It won’t work in the future. Command-and-control schemes never do.
Believe in your truth and keep trying. For the power is in our hands: weare the matrix of eternal light.
This message will travel.
Blessed be the earth, and blessed be we.
And the power is in our hands to change the course
 A form of “Agent Based Computational Economics” (ACE)
This article first appeared at Get Mind Smart
Julie Beal is a UK-based independent researcher who has been studying the globalist agenda for more than 20 years. Please visit her website, Get Mind Smart, for a wide range of information about Agenda 21, Communitarianism, Ethics, Bioscience, and much more.