The Symbolic Nature Of Money

(Editors Note: This is a great new article from a new contributor Jim Koconis. The article looks deeper into how money is created out of thin air. It goes way beyond the fractional reserve banking we have railed against in the past. -Silver Shield)

It doesn’t take much imagination to recognize that virtually all of the social problems we wrestle with are directly related to economic injustice. It’s true that people are not always well intentioned, but very few would resort to crime if given an honest opportunity to exchange their labor for a fair wage allowing them the dignity to purchase a decent standard of living. And, ultimately, that is what economic justice is all about. When the cost of basic food, shelter, and healthcare exceeds the wages we earn, we have the most fundamental of all human crisis to deal with – the crisis of staying alive!

This is the crisis much of the world is facing now. Not only in developing countries, but also in every developed country on the planet, there is the growing catastrophe of people with little or no hope of ever acquiring the basic essentials of life in exchange for their honest labor.  If this problem is not corrected, the world as a whole, will be visited by the worst imaginable nightmare. The collected frustration and anxiety of the planet’s 7 billion residents will finally explode into unchecked criminality simply to stay alive. The precursors to this tragedy are clearly evident from the European and American debt crises to the upheavals in North Africa and the Middle East. Everywhere, politicians are scrambling to understand the dilemma and contain it.  And, predictably, international financial institutions are slyly insinuating themselves into this drama with the carrot of ‘economic assistance’ – more commonly known as crushing debt.

It’s unlikely politicians will solve these problems because they, for the most part, have deferred all monetary policy matters to their central banks. Unfortunately, there is little evidence that most politicians actually have a working understanding of basic monetary concepts anyway. It’s no wonder they’ve deferred to the financial gurus [who are often the largest contributors to the politician’s election campaign]. Politicians flatter themselves, imagining that by shuffling tax revenues between different programs and policy initiatives they are thoughtfully providing for the common good, because to them, this is all that economic justice amounts to. These fiscal maneuvers, though critically important, are hopelessly unrelated to economic justice because economic justice is largely a function of monetary policy – not fiscal policy. If a nation’s money supply is not sound it matters very little in the short term how revenues are either collected or spent, and even less in the long term.  Economic justice is about the quality and value of the money in the system, not the direction it is pushed and pulled by politicians.

And the efforts of global financial institutions will not assist in solving these problems either because they, by calculated design, are the very instruments that cause monetary debasement and the consequential economic injustice that always follows. The magical notion that a nation can borrow its way to solvency is seductive but, ultimately, nothing more than hollow sophistry intended only to provide a monetary sugar-high. To understand the cause of economic injustice one must understand the monetary system as a whole, and more importantly, the very nature and meaning of money itself.

Most people know, intuitively, that there is something fundamentally corrupt at the heart of the financial and monetary system. Great efforts have been taken, by many thoughtful economists, to study the system with the hope of discovering some principal or formula that might serve to explain the infinite correlations and unexpected vagaries that appear to constitute what we experience as economic reality. The natural [and boring] tendency of these scholars is to impose a mathematical context on their investigations which will neatly and dispassionately describe these phenomena and assist in charting a  new course to social prosperity. When the math fails [as it always does] they redouble their efforts and develop more sophisticated computations. And when that fails, they turn to computer modeling. But nothing really works. The math never seems to capture more understanding than what simple common sense already knows. Statistics can readily display ‘that’ something is unjust, but not ‘why’ it is. The reason for the abysmal track record of economists is due to a flawed methodology, overly respectful of numbers and the hollow formulaic  constellations derived from them. Twinkling stars provide a little light but no heat.

Economics is, at its heart, the study of human actions and reactions when confronted by the actions and reactions of others. All human action is predicated by intentionality. Intentions and the actions that result from them may be honest or they may be hypocritical. Mathematics is not a tool that can measure intentions, nor can it distinguish whether an action resulting from an intention is honest or hypocritical.  When mathematic principals are applied to economics they always fall short because they cannot penetrate into the animating core of human action – the heart and its intentions. To understand economics is to understand the human heart.

Virtually everything that happens in the economy is mediated by the symbol we call money, it should come as no surprise that a comprehensive understanding of the economy requires a knowledge of the nature and power of symbols. Without this knowledge very little can be understood. The knowledge and use of symbols is the domain of the artist. The financial and monetary systems are nothing more than an art project, in which the symbol called money is manipulated for the advantage of the artist who has designed, fabricated, and deployed it.

As astonishing as this might sound, it is true. To grasp any understanding of the true nature of the financial and monetary systems one needs to view it as an art form, not a mathematical conundrum. Symbolic representation and expression, both honest and hypocritical, weave themselves together in the tapestry we call the economy. The unimaginable power of the symbol we call money and our relationship to it is one of the single most profound and illuminating intellectual pursuits that can be engaged in. And we all have the innate capability to do so. Money is all about art. The power of money comes from the power of art.  Art is not simply a painting on the wall, art is the science of manipulating symbols and is derived from the word ‘artificial’. Synonyms would be – false, crafty, fraudulent, hypocritical, and illusory.

The conventional understanding about art, correctly recognizes, that artists imagine and then create symbols to represent, convey or evoke meaning. The symbol exists in the physical world and is perceived by our senses. What the symbol represents is rarely, itself, another physical reality – it is, typically, an abstraction.  Physical things, because they are physical, can quite naturally represent themselves. But abstractions need an assist.  They need to be escorted into the physical world by a symbol. The physical symbol represents an abstract essence. An idea, a sentiment, an emotion, a desire, a thought, a harmony. The symbol is like a garment that we clothe the abstraction with to bring it to mind.  The symbol has force and utility, only, because it is hinged to something essential not because it is the essence itself. The abstract essence supports the physical symbol and without this support the symbol is nothing at all. We all, intuitively, recognize this obvious relationship between symbols and the essence that is represented by it. The essence must exist before a symbol can attach itself to it.

So, for example, love [an abstraction] does not exist because we have the four letters l – o – v- e. The four letters are only symbols to represent what already has essence, either, in our mind, our will or our emotions – and that essential thing is love itself.  It would be preposterous to assert that love itself, is conjured into existence by the four letters acting with some unknown magical force. The reality LOVE inspires the four letters with its meaning and nature – the four letters do not inspire, or bring to life the essence of love. If the four letters had the power to create love we could shower the world with love by using a high speed printing press and create as much l-o-v-e as we had paper and ink. In this make-believe world of manufactured love the owner of the printing press would, no doubt, be the most popular and respected man on the planet. His creative efforts could, no doubt, bless the world. If an artist, through some perverse alchemy he has discovered, claimed the ability to fabricate a symbol that mysteriously possessed the power to bring into existence the very property that the symbol represented, we would hopefully dismiss him as a charlatan. But, as will become painfully obvious, this is exactly what has happened in the world of money.

The design of our entire monetary system is constructed upon the fraudulently  absurd proposition that the symbol, that we call money, possesses an innate power,  and because it is endowed with this ‘life force’ it is capable of creating ‘value’ by BEING valuable itself. And, to add injury to insult, the symbol called money, audaciously, claims onto itself the generative power of reproduction through the instrumentality of usury. Money begets money! Because all symbols are created by artists, the claims of the symbols are, in fact, the claims of the artist in who’s imagination they were conceived and by who’s skill they are managed. The study of money is, for better or worse, the study of the personality that created it, the artist/banker.

WHAT IS MONEY?

Money is ONLY a symbol and like all symbols it can only ‘represent’ something. It can NEVER be the ‘something’ itself. The ‘something’ that the symbol we call money can REPRESENT, but NEVER BE, is the value of useful labor. Useful labor is the effort we all expend in attempting to stay alive. We grow and distribute food for nourishment. We harvest the earth’s resources to create shelter. And we explore the mysteries of our bodies to maintain our health. We value these labors because we value life itself. And the symbol we call ‘money’ is simply the tool that allows us to trade our labor in producing these necessary goods and services, for and with each other, in an efficient way. The value we attribute to this useful labor is what the symbol of money is designed to measure. If money is not related to labor, as the symbol of its value, it can have no honest meaning or specific property.

All money [which is ONLY A SYMBOL of the value of useful labor] in our monetary system is fabricated by private banks as a monopoly privilege granted to them by our government. These symbols are then sold to us by the banks as interest bearing loans.  Interest or usury is the sacred cornerstone around which all financial instruments are organized and, without which, banking institutions and most investment vehicles would simply evaporate.  And, as will become apparent, usury is at the root of all economic injustice because usury allows a very small group of elitists to acquire vast amounts of money without contributing any useful labor in the process, whereas, everyone else must perform work in exchange for their money.

When banks create and then lend money, they only create the principal but not the additional amount needed to repay the interest. In a loan transaction, what is actually taking place is this; we are agreeing to pledge our labor in exchange for the use of the bank’s fabricated symbols that, ostensibly, represent this labor.  We must return more to the bank than what was actually loaned to cover the added interest costs.  The only way to acquire this additional money is to perform additional work [or steal it from someone else!]. This demand to perform additional work is equivalent to the devaluation of our labor.  Usury always results in the devaluation of useful labor and transfers that lost value directly into the pockets of the banks who, as mentioned, do no useful work in the process.

All money in the current monetary system comes into being as an interest bearing  loan from a bank. Our entire money supply is, in essence, a debt obligation to the banking system and must be repaid with interest. These interest charges accrued by the banks pay for the astronomical salaries and benefits to the bank’s officers and shareholders. As grotesque as those numbers are, there are several more pernicious effects at work in the banking scheme which not only contribute to economic injustice, but actually enshrine it:

  1. Because the banks do no useful labor themselves in exchange for the money they receive as profits, the nature of the money they receive must necessarily be different, in some way or form, from the nature of the money the laborer receives as payment for his labor. The difference is the difference between form and substance. The physical symbol acquired by both the laborer and the bank are identical in form, as both the laborer and the bank can employ this physical symbol, equally, as a medium of exchange.  But in substance, the money the laborer works for and the money the bank receives as usury are totally different in nature.  To the bank, money is the ‘something’- it has property in and of itself, because it is not hinged to the substance of labor. But to the laborer,  money is only the honest symbol of that substance – his labor. When something has ‘substance’ it can also HAVE a value. When something is only a symbol it does not have substance; and what does not have substance CANNOT HAVE a value, it can only REPRESENT a value.  In other words, the bank has devised a method to turn money from a symbol into a ‘thing with substance and value’ in and of itself, unrelated to any useful labor.  It has created a device to impute a value to the symbol [money] itself, as though it were a valuable commodity. And not one person in a million will recognize it. This sleight of hand alchemy is at the core of the banks tremendous power and animates everything it does. This subtle foundational fraud is the reason it is so difficult for most to understand what money actually is and how to relate to it. Is it a symbol or is it the thing itself? Is money the form or is it the substance? As long as the vast majority of people are held in this state of confusion about the duplicitous nature of money the banking system will happily succeed in propagating their illusion that money has value in and of itself. Banks will leverage the public’s befuddlement about money to their tremendous advantage.  The very first tenet of economic justice should be, at the very least, that money must have only one nature and only one meaning. It cannot be one thing to the laborer who must earn it and another thing to the bank that can simply create it. Bankers and the priestly class of orthodox economists juggle the very meaning of the word ‘money’, capriciously, defining it to support whatever fraud they are trying to rationalize. Linguistic acrobatics and sloppy metaphors, so common in financial double speak, are leveraged to obfuscate the truth, not to reveal it. Because honest arithmetic is not on their side, most of the financial system’s apologists are compelled to conscript the mercenary forces of obtuse language to do their dirty work. Their rank poetry might have some entertainment value if the stakes weren’t so high for the common working man struggling to put food on the table.
  2. For the banking system to exist it is crucial for it to propagate the concept that money itself has value. The banks have cleverly understood that if it is permitted to claim that money has value in and of itself [and is not simply a symbol of value] they can then, quite logically, assume the preposterous right to sell it to us as though it were a commodity with an intrinsic worth.  If money was universally acknowledged to be only a symbol, then a bank could never hope to convince anyone of its right to rent it, because a symbol, simply, has no value. To be able to charge rent for the use of money [usury], the banks must first firmly establish, in the mind of the renter, the deceptive notion that money actually has a value, because no one would agree to spend their hard earned money on the rental cost of money [usury] if what was being rented had, IN FACT, no value. The rationalization of the legitimacy of charging usury is based solely upon this deliberate and subtle misrepresentation of the very nature and meaning of money. The confusion about the nature of money in the popular mind is the thin edge of the wedge necessary for the banks to assert that usury is an appropriate and legitimate concept, when nothing could be further from the truth. Usury is the subtle fraud of counterfeiting the nature and meaning of money, to be at one and the same time, the symbol of value as well as the thing of value itself. Every religion throughout history has recognized usury to be theft by fraud – plain and simple. Any society, truly concerned about economic justice, has always outlawed usury. And so should we.
  3. When banks fabricate ‘money’ and loan it at usury they only create the principal amount. The money to repay the interest is never introduced into the money supply, except through another interest bearing loan. The arithmetic demands that there will never be an adequate supply of money to repay the loans. Someone will always be in debt to the bank without the hope of ever repaying it. It is like trying to fill a bucket with water knowing there is a hole in the bucket.  Simply put, the monetary system in this country and every country in the world is rigged to guarantee that the banks have a steady and constant stream of borrowers. This insures that the banks will be making money forever through ever growing interest remittances – all unearned. To acquire the money necessary to sustain life we are obligated to enrich the banks by purchasing the symbols of our own labor at interest! As preposterous as this reality is, we accept it. We pay to the banks the cost of our own servitude. Can this ever be a tenet of economic justice?
  4. Perhaps, the most egregious fraud of all is how the banking system debases the money supply. Banks exist because they can make loans and charge interest on those loans. The more loans they make, the more interest they earn. As banks must continually pump more and more money into the system to insure an adequate supply to repay the ever growing interest demands, the money supply is constantly increasing. As the new money is first introduced into the system it retains the same purchasing power as all other existing money, but gradually, as it trickles down to the laborers who actually have given money its value in the first place, it has eroded the purchasing power of all money, including the banks money. So, whoever gets the money first actually gets ‘more valuable’ money than the people at the bottom, who get it last. And who are these first recipients? The banks of course! This is the reason that banks always front load mortgage payments with mostly interest and not principal. They want their money first. All the money accrued by banks as interest payments inflate the entire money supply, slowly carving away value and debasing what was once good money. Because this process is so gradual, it goes unnoticed. And, of course, everything becomes more expensive before wages have a chance to keep pace.   The purchasing power of average wages in the U.S. has been dropping since the 1970’s, while banking and all financial sector profits have soared. This inverse relationship is not a coincidence. Healthy economic growth cannot be stimulated by the insertion of more money any more than hunger can be satisfied by looking at a photograph of a five course meal.
  5. And lastly, a word or two about how the banking system cleverly misrepresents the mechanics at work in the loan process itself. Most people believe that when a bank grants a loan to them the banks are taking a portion of their own earned assets and giving them to you for a fixed period of time. Think again! Banks create the money for your loan out of absolutely nothing but your very own promise to repay them with interest and the collateral you  pledge, equal in value to the loan itself. The value of the assets you pledge in trust to the bank as collateral against default is simply monetized by the bank [turned into the symbol called money] and then this symbol is returned to you as the loan itself.  To monetize the collateral and turn it into money the bank simply opens an account in your name and with a computer keystroke adds a few numbers to REPRESENT the value of the collateral – not TO BE the value itself. You now have money! The banks have no skin in the game at all. If you repay the loan, they make money, by taking yours. If you default, they garnish your collateral or solicit the government for repayment on your behalf. Ever hear of a bank bailout, recently? When a bank makes profits, the money goes directly into the pockets of the bankers not onto a pile of money sitting in their vault, from which, they then draw on to make other loans. All loans are brand new money created simply by monetizing the collateral of the borrower himself with a bookkeeping entry. It is only a SYMBOLIC EXPRESSION of the transference of value; it, in ACTUALITY, transfers nothing!  Banks do no labor in the process – nor do they give you anything of value in return  – they only created a symbol for your temporary use.  Essentially, the crafty art form called banking is to acquire money without the distracting detail of having to work for it. They have no skin in the game at all. Banks enrich themselves directly using the assets of the borrowers and lending it back to them at interest. The purported ‘loan’ is simply a fictitious vehicle, a prop, upon which usury sits, demanding and getting a free ride. Banks never ever risk their own assets. If the general working public ever got their arms around this riddle it would change the world as we know it – it’s that dangerous.

The entire banking enterprise is nothing but an over designed theatrical performance, scripted to disguise embezzlement as a socially useful administrative function without which society could not prosper. In fact, the only prosperity that results from the introduction of debt and its ever present sidekick -usury, is the prosperity of the banks at the expense of everyone else. According to Lloyd Blankfein, CEO of Goldman Sachs, at a recent court proceeding in Manhattan, shamelessly describing his bank – “We’re like a middleman…It’s a service we do for the world.”

Usury is a tax on all money. It is imposed upon all laborers by an unelected cadre of symbol manufacturers and manipulators, devaluing all honest, useful labor through its inflationary propensity. It is mathematically unsustainable because it enforces the exponential growth of debt beyond the ability of individuals or sovereign states to service it. Debt service is the elephant in the room. And our current banking system tends and feeds this behemoth.  Governments, across the globe, are, hopelessly, taxing their people, simply, to raise the money to pay the tax liability they have incurred to the bankers and Wall Street investors as their bond issuances mature. Furthermore, what Wall  Street, euphemistically, calls commissions, fees or dividends are, in essence, just derivative forms of usury masquerading as legitimately earned compensation. But money cannot beget money and still be honest money. Money cannot have babies! Mincing language and massaging the slivers to create illusions is what the financial system is, ultimately, all about as it goes about its business of developing more complicated and abstract investment instruments, yielding ever greater unearned income for themselves and their clients. As impossible as it is to get a handle on this runaway, financially fraudulent train wreck, we can be quite confident of one thing –  it is all based on the fraud of usury,  money unrelated to useful labor. How ever it is, that Wall Street creates billions and trillions of dollars is a deepening mystery to all – but what we do know, as a fact, is that they have not expended any useful labor in the process. As the financial system hijacks the honest money of the laborer and leverages it into unearned profits for themselves the chasm between the laborer and the investor widens and, eventually, deposits all wealth into the hands of the most cunning and avaricious of our species. With wealth comes power. We can see, even today, that it is the banks that control the governments and not the governments that control the banks.  One need only to look at Greece, Ireland and Portugal. The banks are calling the shots, not the elected governments. There is no reason to think this roster of nations will not, eventually, include all nations – even our own . It is sobering to realize that whoever controls a nation’s monetary system not only controls that nation’s tax policy and social service disbursements but also its security forces and military.

The economy is so transparently unjust many new voices have arisen to point blame and show us all the way forward. Everyone seems to have an answer. This cacophony is healthy because it keeps the crisis on center stage where it should be. But, regrettably, because so much of the punditry is poorly reasoned and usually packaged in rants, it tends to embarrass the cause of monetary reform, not to support it. This, unfortunately, only further entrenches the propriety which the status quo, undeservingly, enjoys.

Conspiracy theory proponents [and even the militant gold standard advocates] who rail against the fractional reserve banking system, muddy the waters, when they assert that this system allows the banks to create ‘money out of thin air’ and that this power, somehow, unjustly enriches them. This is only an appearance that hides an even deeper mystery. Astonishingly, the reality of how money is ‘created’ is even more preposterous than creating money ‘out of nothing’.   What they fail to recognize is that all ‘symbols’ are created out of nothing, not just the symbol we call money. The damage is not that banks can create money [a symbol] out of thin air – the damage is that the symbols [money] actually belongs to the borrower in the first place as the value of, either, his future earnings or his collateral, and is loaned back to him at usury. Banks do not ‘make money’ by creating the symbols we call money. They make money by loaning these symbols at usury.  All bank loans are a semantic fiction, because, what the borrower is getting from the lender is, in truth, his to begin with. And this is the case whether the symbols are fiat paper bank notes, digital currency or gold coins.  The unjust enrichment comes from the addition of usury by the lender – not the form the symbols [money] take or the conditions under which the symbols were fabricated. If the banks were not permitted to create the symbols [money] out of thin air –then the government would do it – and if the government did not create the symbols out of thin air then Uncle Joe would, and if Uncle Joe didn’t, then Aunt Dorothy would.  The point is, someone has to do it. It makes no difference who, because all that is being created are innocent SYMBOLS.  How else could a symbol be created, if not out of thin air? However, the critical question to ask is this – why is it considered legitimate for the maker of the symbols to loan them at usury?  Why should the symbol maker, whoever he is, be enriched just because he has been granted the franchise to create a unit of measurement [the symbol] that, in and of itself has no worth, but serves only to evaluate the labor of others?

Does an inch have value? Is the maker of a ruler entitled to a percentage of every inch he measures?

Does an hour have value? Is the clockmaker entitled to a percentage of every hour that passes by?

Does the measuring tool called money have value? Is the banker entitled to a percentage of everyone’s labor? The answer is …no, no, and NO! Because the monetary system, created by the banking institution, is a complex network of interrelated frauds and disinformation, each one buttressed by another, it is impossible to expose one without revealing another.  Getting our arms around the entire hornets nest is further thwarted by the organic nature of the system itself. It is constantly mutating through the development of more and more sophisticated ‘investment vehicles’. Creative genius is never predictable in the world of art, but should always be anticipated. However, the most challenging hurdle we have to leap, as we investigate the world of money, is our own misinformed prejudices and preconceptions about money.

The acquisition of money, for most, is such a daunting and necessary imposition on our time we, quite naturally, assume that money must be valuable. We construct a mental equation with the grief required to earn money on one side, and the amount of money we receive for that grief on the other side.  This mental equation supports and vivifies our perception that money has value. The threat, that if we do not work, we will have no money [and therefore, nothing to eat] is constantly dangling over us by a very thin thread and compels us to view money itself, as something possessing intrinsic value. To all laborers money must, in fact, be earned through suffering the loss of time and the exertion of energy. In a just monetary system this would be normal and expected. However, we do not have a just monetary system, as many are not compelled to suffer anything at all.

If a smart alec intellectual were to walk up to someone who just spent his last ten hours dragging drywall up three flights of stairs and carefully expounded to the laborer that all the money he had earned over the preceding ten hours, in fact,  had no value at all, but was only a symbol of that value; the laborer would, in short order, dismiss him as an irritating provocateur. The laborer could care less if the money he earned was only a symbol of the value of his labor or something of value itself.  The immediacy of his practical needs will not tolerate abstract meditations about epistemology. Whatever money actually is, he can still use it to pay his rent. But, if you told the laborer that part of the money he had earned over the last ten hours was stolen by a loquacious gentleman in a three piece suit and that he would have to suffer this loss in his paycheck, his reaction would be righteous outrage, as it should be.

Workers, of all types, who acquire money as a recompense for their labor are held in submission to the firm persuasion that money IS valuable. The strength of this persuasion dictates that they view, not only, their own earned money as valuable but all money, everywhere, regardless of whose hands it is in. The mystery, that some people can make money from money, without any labor, and still be valuable, is an unfathomable fairy tale and he must submit to it. This innocent and quite expected persuasion, in the minds of virtually everyone, that ‘all money IS valuable’ is leveraged by the banks, with insidious cruelty, to exploit the very honesty of the laborer himself. And, to the delight of the banks, it all transpires unnoticed, hiding itself within the enigma of usury.

The difference between a bank and a pawn shop is negligible. In principal they both trade on the desperation and ignorance of their customers. A bank, however, has discovered how to appropriate and deploy the seductive powers of the theatrical arts, including orchestrated language and dramatic contrapasto to slyly twist a symbol into the very essence it claims to represent. The paying audience, overwhelmed by the rhythmic harmonics and glittering iconography, comes away from this fictitious drama, spellbound, without ever imagining that they were cheated for the cost of the ticket – usury. All dramas are staged to captivate the imagination of an audience with the premeditated intent of selling them tickets, and banking is no different.

This purported transubstantiation –  the symbol morphing into its essence, is not an unfamiliar claim to anyone acquainted with the ceremonial protocols that attend and animate the doctrines and dogmas of many religions. Its archetype is readily discerned in the ancient Hebrew sacrificial system administered by the Levitical priesthood as well as in the Christian Eucharist in the hands of the church’s  mediums and sorcerers. This wizardry was then transferred into the inner sanctum of the alchemists and astrologists, adopted by the Gnostics, Cabbalists, Theosophists and cultists of every stripe. It then took a Sunday drive down Main Street baldly offering itself to the entertainment industry before parking on Wall Street, where it was embraced as the intoxicating harlot it is. This is, perhaps a story for another time,  but only mentioned here to assist the reader in recognizing that the craft of art, whenever carefully managed, has always had the power to manipulate our minds, and therefore our actions, by deliberately blurring the boundaries between form and substance, image and reality, literal and metaphoric….symbol and essence….lies and truth.

The banking system, like all artistic traditions, has evolved over the centuries. The form that symbolic expression clothes itself with grows tired and lifeless over time and has to continually be reinvigorated through novelty to attract an audience. Artists can and do alter the symbols that create meaning in our minds but the symbols do not change that meaning. Regardless of the garments one wears, the identity of the person himself does not change. Over the years banking has changed in form and appearance but the core intention of its designers remain intact. The intention and purpose for which banks are organized and maintained is to allow the bankers to receive money or property without laboring. It is no more complicated than that. They have created a tool that makes that dream possible and that tool is usury. The banks only real business is to convince people that usury is legitimate. And all their efforts, conspire to do just that. Everyone else must exchange the sweat of their labor for the use of their symbol, called money – everyone that is, except the bank/ers.

Contrary to the reason of most, any society that allocates a disproportionate amount of its resources in the creation and enjoyment of its ‘cultural arts’ is a society on the threshold of disintegration not enlightenment. Art is about describing life not supporting it.  Without a pile of bricks and a strong pair of hands to assemble them, an architect would be of marginal use. The most valuable export of the United States is the art that it produces – from Michael Jackson t-shirts and Wheel of Fortune reruns to money itself. Our delirious pursuit of such shallow metaphors as sporting events, video games, pretty automobiles,  fashion accessories and virtually everything promoted on television is emblematic of a people willingly submissive to the bondage of symbols, so long as the symbols are politically correct, funny, aggressive, or delivered at the speed of light. We are all drunk on symbols and voraciously insist on defining our reality by them.

It should go without saying that our monetary system is not only broken – it was never intentionally designed to provide an honest money supply, which is absolutely necessary to underpin economic justice. It was designed, solely to enrich the banks. The monetary system of the United Stated and every other country in the world is an ad hoc assembly of sophisticated ‘make-believe’ propositions and fraudulent mathematical assertions that pretend to magically cohere, all conspiring to form a magnificent illusion – a monstrosity of deception. Not one economist has come forward to explain it and, certainly, not one politician has risen to manage it.  The architecture of the world’s monetary system is designed to benefit the owners of the private central banking monopolies and their unwitting political puppets at the expense of the common wage earner.  Their sole purpose is to create a complex labyrinth of impenetrable rationalizations and linguistic rabbit holes to disguise the obvious fact that usury is theft by another name. The deep opacity of this scheme has insured little opposition and yielded unfathomable fortunes – all unearned.

Most economists, correctly, admit to the fact that inflation is the cause of needless human suffering and, also, the primary cause of the implosion of many great civilizations throughout history. But why is it that they do not recognize that usury is the greatest cause of inflation? Are they willfully blind to this obvious reality or have they been so intimidated by the conventional orthodoxy of their ‘education’, that to take a position against usury would bring them to quick ridicule and career ending shame by the very institutions that have certify and nourished them? After all, isn’t usury just an old-fashioned, obsolete word?  Hasn’t the complexity of modern finance transcended the requirement to respect such an antiquated  ‘religious’ injunction?

Of course, it would take courage for economists to identify our current usurious banking system as the single greatest obstacle to economic and social justice, and, further, to council our politicians of this undeniable reality. It would be much easier [certainly safer] to take the well worn path, and just push for tough sanctions and regulations in the financial sector. But rules and regulations only codify the illusion that usury is a manageable problem and not the crime of fraud, which it actually is. Just as an honest money supply cannot tolerate counterfeiting, neither can it tolerate usury.  Usury and counterfeiting are different methods to the same fraud. As long as the government subcontracts its constitutional mandate to create the nation’s money supply, and sanctions a private banking cartel the monopoly privilege to do so, there is no hope that we can ever have anything but a constantly degraded money supply and escalating social injustice. An economy created and dependant upon the fraud of usury, such as ours, can only devolve into bitter class divisions because usury, as a mathematical certainty, will  not only transfer more and more into the coffers of fewer and fewer, it will in time, transfer EVERYTHING!

The truth behind the banking industry has only little to do with mathematics but everything to do with well crafted theatre. The entire global financial edifice is nothing more than an artificially staged drama with usury playing the leading role. It is a testimony to the most powerful and manipulative force on earth – art. The semantic fraud and thinly veiled avarice that prop up global financial institutions mock any aspirations for economic justice and, unless stopped, will mindlessly devour the planet’s resources and indenture all its inhabitants.

Building a new monetary framework without the corrupting influence of usury should be every elected leader’s primary and most solemn responsibility. Any politician who does not intuitively understand that duty is just unnecessary baggage and should be ostracized. To manage the status quo is an exercise in terminal insanity and insults the tender honesty of most. Economic justice is the fountainhead of all civil rights. Without it, we are slaves to much more than money. Given human nature, we will never fashion a monetary system that is flawless and just at all times, nor would we ever demand it of ourselves. We all know suffering exists and we are all willing to bear our fair share of the burden. But, that load would be more tolerable if we were, at least, granted the simple courtesy of knowing why, how and by who we are being violated. Our own ignorance about the monetary system, cunningly nursed and perpetuated by the usurious banking institution, is the most demeaning of all indignities. For the banks, the world’s laborers are nothing more than stupefied mules taxed with the dead weight of their usury.

One might ask, “Why do the banks do this?”

The sad reason for this is that most bankers, who all benefit from the institutionalized theft of usury, do not understand the system any better than anyone else. Their vocation is simply to act as functionaries, managing a system that has preceded them by centuries, and will likely outlive them. Their unimaginative education has immunized them from the natural curiosity of discerning the truth and has absolved them of the duty to act justly. It is not a job requirement for them to understand what they are actually doing – in fact, that knowledge might even disqualify them. Most people who work for banks are paid little more than grocery store clerks and are just as innocent. But, there are a growing number at the top who have, and will continue, to make fortunes – all unearned and appropriated as a percentage of the labors of others.  Usury is their darling.

The current banking system needs to be relegated to the status it evolved from – a warehouse with thugs guarding every door.

40 comments to The Symbolic Nature Of Money

  • Gareth

    Excellent article, Jim.

    People will be ranting I’m afraid as many will be in the anger stage which is still better than being compltely unaware. I, too, was once in the angry stage and insulted many members of the banking profession on many blogs. I agree, I probably looked like a conspiracy nut-case to the neutral observer, but it’s an unfortunate side-effect of the awkaening process.

    I’s personally prefer to not have a medium-of-exchange in the next paradigm, but doubt that will occur, and believe we’ll return to monetary metals.

    All the best,
    Gareth

  • How I wish my father, a farm boy from North Dakota born in 1900, could read your article. It’s exactly what he preached, and he described many of the bankers, politicians and economists as “educated fools”. That hasn’t changed, however the greed factor as well as the dumbing down of the population has been added.

    Your summation covers it all…I vote to send it to every member of Congress, every holder of federal, state and local government office. Those who say let’s do away with Social Security and Medicare should be the first to leave their checks and retirement in the coffers of the government. Why is there no focus on the cost of war, the Pentagon, the CIA, etc.?
    An entrepreneur who has run a small successful business, paid their bills and their taxes will understand your brilliant article. Our elected “representatives” will not even read it.

    I am fortunate to know your artist sister who is living in Paris…it was she who alerted me to your excellent article.
    Please continue writing!
    Helen

  • Richard

    Great article, Jim, it’s moved my understanding up a couple of notches.
    For those with the time and determination to read it the message is clear, but I can’t help thinking that many who need to hear it will have neither time nor determination.
    Perhaps what’s needed is some “….well crafted theatre.”
    Well it’s worked for the bankers….!

    Just a thought,
    Richard
    UK

  • Meghan

    I have always marveled how a CEO of a company can earn 436 times that of the ‘everyday worker’ he or she hires on the floor of their ‘shop’.
    And the question has to be asked: “Does this CEO really work 436 times harder than the ‘everyday worker’ that is employed by them?”
    I have my own small business and yes, I agree, I’d like to be the one to earn more than my employees, because I built my business, risked a heck of a lot to do it and paid my way through college and juggled jobs to to it taboot. But to ever lose sight of entitlements by being too arrogant to think my hour of work was so much more valuable than another person’s: please someone hit me over the head if I EVER even begin to think that. I’m ten years into my business. I live in America and do believe in capitalism, but have ‘left’ political opinions. 436 times is not right. Even 10 times ain’t right… (provided at this point an employee is putting in the 100 hour week I am also.

    Meghan

  • Agent047

    I agree with Richard above. The banksters pull out all the stops and that is exactly what we should be doing to get out the word faster and expose them for who they really are.

  • WoW! Jim I read your article with great interest..on so many levels!! What you say makes great sense to me. Of course it would,as I come from a premise of ‘Essence Emerging Form’ and our individual and collective capacity, gift and responsibility to create from No-Thing. Your article comes at it from a less encouraging perspective for sure but for me, it also sheds light on our inherent potential as individuals and as a humanity. You are calling us to awaken in a particular arena of existence, but to awaken nonetheless. We are each a creative force. Despite the oppressive truth of the system in which we find ourselves, we can and hopefully we will, forge our individual path to freedom. To do it collectively and to impact systems engrained in our culture, we must begin individually! Kudos to you for the Essence you are and the Expression that it has emerged!!
    Kathleen
    http://www.QuintessentialYouDesign.com
    Express Your Essence. Live Your Expression

  • carol

    The first assumption needs checking – banks do not create money. Money is “created” by the sovereign government. Banking is a business and bankers do work just the way a drywall hanger does work. You could take issue with the value of this work and choose not to do business with a bank, many people do just that. But you cannot blame the banks for the mis-use of their products. One should not borrow money if he cannot afford to pay the cost of the bankers work.

    • Jim Koconis

      hi carol – to your point “money is created by the sovereign government”

      it is the pervasive notion of most people that the government creates money, but it is not accurate. when the government needs money it creates IOU notes called bonds. it sells these bonds to the federal reserve bank. the fed then creates money and deposits this money in a bank account for the government to use to pay it’s bills. in time, when the bonds mature the government must buy back the bond with tax revenues collected from the citizens. this is an overly simplified explanation but in principle accurate. so it is the banks that create the money and then loan it to the government – not the other way around. only two times in the history of the united states did the government create its own money. once during the revolutionary war [continentals] and a second time during the civil war [greenbacks]. it is possible for the government to create money but it chooses not to [in violation of the constitution]. any country can bypass the banks and assert its sovereignty to create its own money just as easily as it can create the bonds that it sells to the banking system. hope this helps.

  • Jim Koconis

    hi carol – the only form of money that governments create are ‘coins’. all other money is created by banks when a loan is issued. at the very instant someone signs a loan agreement with a bank the money is conjoured into existence. and, remarkably, when the borrower repays the loan all the money is destroyed. money is not a tangible commodity – it is only a symbol on a computer screen to represent the promise you have pledged to the bank. if you break your pledge, the bank will not be satisfied by you returning a digit on a computer screen – they take your collateral. your ‘promise’ is a joke to them.

  • Scout

    Excellent thought-provoking article, Jim. I have to agree with Richard’s comment, “For those with the time and determination to read it the message is clear,but I can’t help thinking that many who need to hear it will have neither time nor determination.”

    Those of us who do get it, though, can and must take action. Avoid, reduce, eliminate debt. Avoid banks and their services, as much as practical and possible according to one’s ability. When there are no more consumers of their product, they will cease to exist.

    Just say “NO” to banks!

  • Anthony Restivo

    Jim,

    Fantastic article! The ONLY supposition with which I am prepared to take issue is Transubstantiation, as it relates to the Christian Eucharist in particular.

    Every Catholic worth his or her salt believes that the Blessed Sacrament is in fact, the Body, Blood, Soul and Divinity of Christ Himself. No symbols here, only substance. Thousands of miracles over the centuries have proven this, let alone the words of Our Lord Himself.

    I thank Almighty God that I live in a country where (at least for now) exchanges such as this are still possible..

    Keep up the good work.

    Sincerest regards, A.P. Restivo

    • Jim Koconis

      hi anthony – thanks for your kind regards. when you comment that ‘every catholic worth his or her salt believes…” i certainly do not think that catholics [or anyone else] are actually ‘valued in salt’ anymore than you do. ‘valued in salt’ is a metaphor that you have freely choosen to ‘represent’ an idea. why do you deny jesus the same liberty to use language metaphorically? after all, doesn’t the bible say that all jesus’ teaching were via parables and “without a parable he did not speak” ? in fact, all language is symbolic – as is all creation. doesn’t the bible say… ‘we look thru a glass darkly’. this probably isn’t the best place for a conversation about biblical interpetation but i’m glad to know you take it seriously. jim koconis

  • Jay R

    Jim, good article, but Carol is correct (and you probably know this) — banks do not create money when I take out a loan and pledge an asset as collateral. The bank must first be “capitalized”, meaning they have money to start the bank. Then the bank takes deposits (loans from customers) and lends out these funds (capital + deposits) to people like me. They must keep a percentage of the loans made in the vault (fractional lending)based on government requirements. Yes, this is somewhat like “creating money out of thin air” but it is really taking in money and loaning it out. Please be accurate in your articles so as not to have folks discount your writing based on technical details!

    • Jim Koconis

      hi jay – thanks for the comment. the reserve ratio a bank maintains is leveraged to create brand new money. historically the ratio hovered around 10 to 1. this means that for every $100 a bank holds in reserve it is allowed to create another $1000 in new loans. this is called ‘the money multiplier effect’. eventually all this new money is extinguished as the loans are repayed but until that time comes it is all money conjoured out of nothing. no ifs, ands or buts about it.

  • Hey Jim, Congratulations. This should be twittered to the president, I believe it is @BO.

    • Jim Koconis

      hi vincent – thanks for taking the time to read my essay. if you know how to reach the oval office please feel free to do so. this is everyones battle!

  • Marcia M

    This article has several intricate layers to explore. We would all do well to look into our love affair with money and recognize its many disguises.

  • Patty

    Hi Jim
    I don’t read economists’ essays, so clearly unqualified to say your article is the most brilliant original approach to explain our economics/banking system…..BUT I’M SAYING IT ANYWAY!

    Concerning the banking system, I’m remembering a few years ago discussions over dinner with friends remarking: “I don’t understand why the banks aren’t asking for a down payment on mortgages. They always did. It doesn’t make sense. Why are they willing to lend 100% of the value of the home. Why are they willing to take on 100% exposure in this inflated market? on and on”

    It’s infuriating to know now that banks had zero risk in mortgage lending making their business a money-making machine. It’s even more maddening that it was overlooked by everyone but my dinner table !!

    Thanks for whatever labor it took to get this article written and published. I sent it to my good friend Ed Meir who writes metal-related commentaries (and very frustrated with banksters)

    • Jim Koconis

      hi patti – bankers and the priestly class of economist they lean on as spokesmen have no other motive than to complicate an otherwise very obvious fraud – usury.

  • Only a couple of weeks ago a friend of mine was trying to explain to me how banks essentially lend you your own money. This article really helped me grasp that a bit better. The one part I still don’t get is how banks have “no skin in the game”. Do they have ‘no skin’ in the game, or ‘little skin’ in the game? I know they are using fractional reserve banking, so the money sort of comes from nowhere, but is everything they lend out of nowhere? If a bank had 10,000 clients, and each of those borrowed money for a house, then each defaulted, and went bankrupt and never paid a dime, would that cause a bank to go under… or was all that money made from no where in the first place? I guess that little intricacy of it still kind of baffles. Overall, fantastic read, very eye-opening.

    • Jim Koconis

      hi timothy – great question! banks are corporations. they have no skin at all. only human beings have skin.

      in your example of 10,000 borrowers defaulting on their loans at the same time – if those 10,000 borrowers were the only customers the bank had, then their default would definitely shut down the bank corporation. Why? because when someone defaults they no longer are paying interest on the loans. the bank corporation is deprived of its profits and would actually choose to go out of business. why would they want to remain open if they could not profit from their loans. all the bankers that work for the banking corporation would try to find other employment, at other banking corporations. they are not individually liable or – have no skin in the game. in this senario, the banking corporation would foreclose on the properties [take back the borrower’s collateral] and sell them to the highest bidder. then the government would put the bank in receivership, [assume it’s assets and debts] and restructure it under new ownership. anyone who owned stock shares in the bank would find them worth very little. it’s true that banker’s can and often do own stock in the bank corporation and they would also be impacted by the shut down.

      but the important idea to take away from this oversimplification is that the bank corporation creates virtually all of the money [digital symbols] at no expense to itself via fractional reserve lending. the interest received goes into to pockets of the banker [humans surrounded by skin]. when the bank corporation goes under all the idiots that hold the stock in the corporation get a haircut – but the bankers casually move on somewhere else having pocketed whatever interest payments their customers made before the shut down.

  • Timothy

    That explanation makes sense! Thanks a bunch for that.

  • Scott Wolf

    Jim,

    This is one of the finest articles about money I have ever read.I,too,have a keen understanding about the dangers of unregulated credit expansion/usury free money on both the micro and macroeconomic level.

    I regularly read von Mises,Hayek,Rothbard,Hoppe,Menger et al,and your grasp of money is every bit as prescient.I have saved your article and will refer to it again and again.

    I pride myself on always seeking out knowledge,especially about human action and its importance in economics,and I truly believe that the world is on the threshold of a new age.The International banking cabal simply cannont create debt like it has for the last 3 years forever.As you so eloquently explained,the free market is a life form all its own,which is beyond the control of central banks.Fiat money(especially the USDollar)and the elitists attached to it are entering the final stages of a monetary system created in 1971.A global collapse is coming and it will completely alter the political,social and economic landscape of mankind.

    I have two questions for you:

    1)You must have a degree in economics or finance,correct?

    2)How long does it take you to write a piece like this?I only ask because I contribute to this website also and I know how long it takes me to brainstorm,edit,rewrite,check for proper sentence structure,grammatical errors,etc.

    Anyway,I’m rambling.

    Thanks for a remarkable piece.

    I look forward to reading more of your stuff

    Scott Wolf

  • jim koconis

    hi scott – i’m glad you found something to take away from the article. i hope i don’t disappoint you but i have no college degrees. i’m an artist and have been working on this article for 40 years, [at least, :)] !

  • Jim Koconis: And,to add injury to insult,the symbol called money,audaciously,claims onto itself the generative power of reproduction through the instrumentality of usury. Money begets money! When banks create and then lend money,they only create the principal but not the additional amount needed to repay the interest. Jct: Borrowers can’t pay both Principal and Interest when they only all received the Principal. Since P/(P+I) can pay their debts, the remainder 1 – P/(P+I) = I/(P+I) is the ratio knocked out of their mort-gage death-gamble and foreclosed resulting in the same money chasing less goods, Shift B inflation, not Shift A inflation, more money chasing the goods.
    BIG LIE: Find “Big Lie of Economics” hiding “Shift B inflation”, not “more money chasing the goods”, that’s Shift A inflation we all know and suffer well, I said “Shift B inflation” not taught in Economics. They teach “up on this side” but not “down on that side.” Wonder why?

    • Jim Koconis

      hi – thanks for the comment. i don’t follow you 100% . would you be kind enough to rework your thoughts and resubmit your idea using another set of symbols – if it’s important we want everyone to be able to follow it. you lost me with the ‘shift a and shift b’. thanks for the trouble o’king.

  • Jct: Keep in mind, I’m betting discovering Inflation Shift B,untaught in Economics, will get me the last Nobel Economics Prize. Who needs more prizes for coming close when the riddle is finally solved?

  • Jim Koconis

    thank you for the supportive material. a more ‘common sense’ explaination of the relationship between inflation and interest might go like this….

    1. the entire money supply is created [at the initiation of a bank loan] and then is totally destroyed [as the loan is repayed]
    2. the money representing the interest is never created – nor is it ever destroyed. you cannot destroy something that doesn’t exist
    3. therefore the only money left standing in the money supply is the interest. and it’s in the hands of the banks.
    4.this money left standing is 100% inflationary because it never, never, never represented useful labor.
    5. inflation is not too much money chasing too few goods. it is any money within the total money supply that was never ‘backed’ by useful labor [ usury]
    6. so of course, all interest is inflationary. it has to be by definition. we simple need to get the definitions correct to make sense of things.

    send us a card from oslo!

  • 1. the entire money supply is created [at the initiation of a bank loan] and then is totally destroyed [as the loan is repayed]
    Jct: http://johnturmel.com/bank.jpg shows the flows from the tap to the drain with pipes. Yes, all chips but the high-powered chips which are injected by FED are created by the pritate banks as loans and when loans are paid, the chips are retired from circulation.

    2. the money representing the interest is never created –nor is it ever destroyed. you cannot destroy something that doesn’t exist
    P+I: Jct: Borrowers can’t pay both Principal and Interest when they only all received the Principal. Since P/(P+I) can pay their debts, the remainder
    1 – P/(P+I) = I/(P+I) is the ratio knocked out of their mort-gage death-gamble and foreclosed resulting in the same money chasing less goods, Shift B inflation, not Shift A inflation, more money chasing the goods.

    3. therefore the only money left standing in the money supply is the interest. and it’s in the hands of the banks.
    Jct: Actually, there is no money left standing in the money supply, it’s all covered by equivalent debt and therefore, only only debt left standing is the interest.

    4.this money left standing is 100% inflationary because it never,never,never represented useful labor.
    Jct: I don’t know where this money comes from. In my example, everyone borrows 10 chips, owes 11 chips, 9 guys survive (P/(P+I) and 1 gets knocked out I/(P+I). There is no spare money, there is only shortage of money. And all chips were issued in exchange for collateral so it always represented useful labor.

    5. inflation is not too much money chasing too few goods.
    Jct: You’re including both shifts in one example. It’s either
    too much money chasing the goods or the same money chasing too few goods.

    it is any money within the total money supply that was never ‘backed’by useful labor [ usury]
    Jct: All the money they’ll ever give us is backed by useful “labor” or collateral.

    6. so of course,all interest is inflationary. it has to be by definition.
    Jct: I say that interest is inflationary because it causes the foreclosure of the failed players resulting in Shift B, same money chasing less goods.

    we simple need to get the definitions correct to make sense of things.
    Jct: I think I’ve just straightened them out.

  • Jim Koconis

    your point that…
    “all the money they’ll ever give us is backed by ‘useful labor’ or collateral”
    is not really true.
    why?
    because, atho this money is “created’ , it is not all necessarily representative of ‘useful labor’. some of it could be stolen money. some of it could be aquired by a slothful employee. some of it could be dividends from stocks or other forms of interest bearing investments. some of it could be money received as an inheritance or a charitable gift.

    just because we call it P [the principal] that does not mean it is backed by useful labor or collateral. in fact, given the propensity of human beings to want to get the most for the least, very little of the principal ‘created money’ is backed by anything useful. most people are perfectly content to conspire with the banks and position themselves so that they always get more in return than they ever actually contribute.

    it’s a very deep swamp, and there are more than the bankers luxuriating in the stench. anytime people aquire the money they use to repay the banks thru usurous means they are simply an extention of the fraudulent banking system. that is the true cause of inflation – money swashing around unrelated to honest labor. sure, higher interest rates exacerbate the problem but they are not the only cause of inflation – they are just the most ‘obvious’ cause.

    to account for inflation via mathematical formulas is impossible because inflation is a moving target. it is hinged to human desires which are variable. the entire economy is like a disfunctional family where no one really cares for each other. in a healthy family unit charity and honesty rules, but the economy we all experience is ruled by the law of the jungle where everyone desires the most benefit for the least effort. there are no solid reference points by which we can honestly evaluate ‘useful labor’ on the one hand and rapacious greed on the other hand. we, pathetically, substitute an artifical system of evaluation and call it ‘the free market’ or the ‘law of supply and demand’. but these are completely arbitrary systems and offer only an illusion to satisfy unimaginative academics by providing them something to muse over with the intent of appearing thoughtful and discerning. but it’s all hollow sophistry.

    ‘money’ does not itself evaluate anything – at best it can only represent or measure an evaluation that has already been made in the human heart [our desires for something]. the value of something must exists before it can be measured or represented by a numerical system. this is the essence of the tragedy which we call the economy.

    somewher in the bible it states, “the human heart is desparately wicked, who can know it?”

    both parts of this statement are true.

    ‘the human heart is desparately wicked’ -where else in the universe can one find selfishness, hypocrisy, lust, pride etc? nowhere but in the heart of people.

    ‘who can know it?’ – no one. the human heart is open to no one but to the individual himself. how then can it ever be evaluated [ especially by economists!] if it is not open to the bright light of day.

  • Rottenclam

    Jim, thanks for this article. I understood many of the fundamental concepts that you explained, but there were some deeper levels that you went into that I had never encountered before. There were some mental gymnastics that were required, but I think I got some of it (I’ll re-read this again, for sure).

    Anyway, throughout reading your article I was left thinking to myself, “if you were to run a bank that embodied the principles of economic justice that Jim espouses, how would one make a profit?”

    Dont get me wrong, I have very little empathy (or sympathy) for the banking industry, but if I put myself in their shoes for one second, how would I earn profit for the risk(s) that I take?

    There are many careers that take on “risk” as part of their labor, and the people that take those risks yield an income from it (i.e. – they are provided symbols representing value as a rewards for their risks).

    Personally, I like what a commenter named “Scout” said earlier:

    [i]Avoid,reduce,eliminate debt. Avoid banks and their services,as much as practical and possible according to one’s ability. When there are no more consumers of their product,they will cease to exist.

    Just say “NO”to banks![/i]

    Do you think that is a viable solution?

  • Jim Koconis

    hi …rottenclam…???
    to begin to imagine what a reconstructed banking system might look like you would be well served by investigating the following website:

    ellen brown -web of debt
    american monetary institute
    monetary reform party uk

    none of them hold all the answers but they, at least, open the conversation and provide food for thought

  • Joe Dubya

    Hi Jim,

    Amazing article. Awesome. You have solidified some concepts that have been difficult for me to grasp over the years – you’ve managed to make that “annoying little inconsistency” floating around in my head into something I can hang my hat on – and hopefully help others to comprehend. For this, I thank you :)

    If I was to offer any constructive criticism it would be in regards to language and writing style. You obviously have a great vocabulary, but many people I will forward this to – people who need to understand it – are unlikely to slog through that vocabulary. It’s a sad statement I know – but true none-the-less. I’m wondering if a more basically-worded version would be useful in getting the word out? The most important concepts in the world do no good if they’re couched in wording that only a few are willing to take the time to decipher.

    Why am I not surprised that, like me, you’re an artist? – lol. In my experience, creative-minded people are the easiest to “wake up”.

    I would be interested in exploring the idea of helping turn this article into a video – much more digestible to the average person who doesn’t read anything beyond the occasional headline.

  • Jim Koconis

    hi joe – meditate on the basic concepts you have discovered. clothe them in a language most natural to yourself and share them as best you can with those in your world. knowledge becomes goodness when it is quietly shared.

  • KMBN

    Jim,

    Bravo! Thank you for crystallizing and organizing the thoughts I have been entertaining over the last few years of reading about our economic system (including Ellen Brown’s Web of Debt and Zarlenga’s Lost Science of Money).

    The TRUTH is a very powerful thing, and this article lays out the truth of our corrupt monetary system beautifully. It’s sad that our system is the source of so much suffering in our world. In an ideal world, everyone would be able to do meaningful work, be rewarded for the work with honest money, and be able to spend this money to buy the fruits of others’ work. In essence, we all serve one another, and there would be no weasles/parasites stealing the fruits of our labor. Money is the symbolic mechanism of exchange of the fruits of our labor, and it needs to be prevented from corruption, from counterfeiting, and abuse.

    Fractional reserve banking and the private creation of money are scams that steal the labor power from all people, especially the poor and uneducated. Nothing will be fixed until we have monetary reform. To get monetary reform, we need to eliminate bribery of our public officials in the guise of campaign financing. These are the two most important things that we need our government to do.

    Which of our leaders in Congress can get us there? The only ones I remotely respect in this regard are Ron Paul and Dennis Kucinich. I know Ellen Brown is working on setting up public state banks and some states have such initiatives, but what can someone who wants change do? I guess educate others, “unplug” from the financial system as much as possible, vote for change, prepare for the worst, etc…

  • Jim Koconis

    hi kmbn – thanks for all the thoughtful insights. whether the monetary system changes or not, the best thing to do is to be honest and show charity to all, even the banksters. the bottom line is they really don’t have a clue about how things work any better than most. perhaps a few do but you’ll never be in the same room with them, so there’s little chance of you ever changing their minds. You’re obviously a very good writer – keep it up!

  • KMBN

    Hah, you’re right: before I understood much about our current money system, I tried asking my brother, a banker, about how the banking system (including the Federal Reserve and fractional reserve banking) operated, and he didn’t really understand! Kudos again for continuing my education about the morality of economics, and thanks for the kind words and good advice.

    It’s hard not to get riled up sometimes about injustice in the “system.” I always wondered about where money came from, why I and others in the US have a relatively good life, but others are poor and hungry and homeless. Reading books and articles by people like Brown, Zarlenga, “Silver Shield,” yourself, and many other bloggers, Michael Hudson, Lynne Swift, John Perkins, Bob Woodward, Jeffrey Sachs, Robert Wright, Malachi Martin, to name just a few helped me understand how some people behind the scenes achieve power, and what is wrong with our system and world view that allows them to oppress the rest of us.

    It seems like a solution is possible, to bring economic freedom to a lot of people by getting rid of the oppressive money-as-debt scheme, but we may only get there after more unnecessary suffering and destruction.

    Part of the problem is the system, but the other part of it is the internal attitude of all of us that participate in the system and accept the illusion. So, it sounds like you’re saying we can’t really change the system (via monetary reform), but we can change the world by the little things we do and how we treat other people. If so, I agree with this whole-heartedly! Living simply and being charitable are excellent goals, quite the opposite of the goals of the “moneyed power” in fact. The solution to a better world lies within all of us. If everyone at a minimum practiced respect, fairness, and mutual benificence (“us and them,” “win-win,” “non-zero sum interactions”), instead of seeking advantage or power by oppressing or harming others to obtain more for ourselves (“us vs. them,” “win-lose,” and “zero sum interactions”), the world would be a much better place. Going a step further requires selfless love and charity, but let’s be realistic here :) This is a discussion on economic justice, not spirituality or religion.

  • Jim Koconis

    hi kmbn – as evidenced by your remarks – a mature conversation about economics quite naturally flows into a meditation about spiritual/religious concepts and musings. this is as it should be. the economy, and all financial reflections about it, is in the end simply an assessment of the natue and constitution of human desires. and all desires reside it the human heart and are manifested by the human spirit/intentions. you have no reason to be shy or circumspect about acknowledging that reality. on the contrary, without underpinning your pursuit of the study of economics on spiritual forces there is little that can be learned – and nothing of use that can be shared.

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