“Money is an agreement, it doesn’t have value all by itself. It has value because people agree that it has value. Economist will tell you what money does, that it facilitates exchange, you use it to count things and keep track of things. You write some numbers, on a magical piece of paper called a check, and you can cause all kinds of abundant of goods to come to your house and you can even cause misery for thousands of people if you are one of the highest initiate of the magic of money.
Scarcity is built into the money system on a most obvious level, Its because of the way money is created, as interest bearing debt. So any time a bank lends money into existence, the money comes along with a corresponding amount of debt. and the debt, because there’s interest on it, is always greater than the amount of money. So it essentially throws people, into ‘competition’ with each other for never enough money.
Growth is another thing that is built in our money system. Economic growth means that you have to find something that was once nature and make it into a goodor was once a gift relationship and make it into a service. You have to find something that, people once got for free or did for themselves or for each other, and then take it away and sell it back to them
By turning things into commodities, we get cut off from nature. in the same way we are cut off from community. We look at nature with eyes, well, its just a bunch of stuff. And that leaves us very lonely, and leaves us with many basic human needs that go unmet. And if you have money, you might try to fulfill this hunger through purchasing, through buying things, or through accumulating money itself. Of course now we are nearing the end of growth Our planet can’t sustain much more growth. Thats why the crisis we have today wont go away.
For example, you are not supposed to actually hate monday, and be happy when you have to go to school. School should be something that you love, Life should be something that you love, We didn’t earn any of the things that really keep us alive or that make life good. We didn’t earn air, we didn’t earn being born, we didn’t earn our conception, we didnt earn being able to breathe, we didnt earn having a planet that can provide food. we didnt earn the sun. So i think that in some level, people have an inborn gratitude, because on some level we know that we didnt earn any of this We know that life is a gift. Well if you know if you’ve received a gift, then the natural response is gratitude. the desire to give in turn.
In a gift economy, its not true, the way it is in our money economy. that everybody is in competition with everybody else. In a gift society, if you have more than you need, you give it to somebody who needs it, thats how you get status. and thats even where security comes from. because if you build up all that gratitude, then people are going to take care of you, too. And if there’s no gifts, then there’s no community. And we can see as society has become more monetized, that community has disappeared. People long for it but you can’t just . have community as an add on to monetized life. You have to actually need each other, people desire to enact their gifts and they were free from money, they would do it. But money is so often a barrier.
People think – Oh I would love to do this but can I afford to do this? Is it practical? Money stops them. What beautiful thing would I do? What am I called to do? Would it be to set up big gardens for homeless people to take care of and reconnect them to nature? Would it be to clean up toxic waste site? What would you do? What beautiful thing would you do? And why isn’t it practical to do these things? Why isn’t there money in those things?
An economy that embodies the principle of the gift, is an economy that is simply grounded in the truth. The task before us is to align money with the true expression of our gifts. it requires a very different mechanism, for the creation of money and the circulation of money. They include things like negative interest, which reverse the effects of usury. They include things like the internalization of costs, so you can no longer pollute and have somebody else or future generations pay the costs. They include social dividends, sharing in the wealth that comes from what should be the commons. The land, the aquifers, our cultural heritage. They include a relocalization of a lot of economic functions, they include all kinds of peer-to-peer financing and peer-to-peer revolution. What will it take to take away this shift from the current money system?
The current money system just work less and less well. Growth can only be maintained at a higher cost and higher cost. Even our best effort can’t keep the economy from growing. as fast as it needs to for the system to work and that creates further misery, people just can’t take it anymore. Even the people on top, even the winners, of this artificially induced competition, they are not happy either. Its not working for them either. So i think we are going to see a series of crisis moments, each one more severe than the last. And at each crisis moment, we’ll have a collective choice, do we give up the game and join the people? Or do we hold on even tighter? Its really up to us to determine, at what point this wake up point will happen.
You know, a child plays, a child plays and develops his or her gifts, but doesn’t apply them towards their true purpose yet. And thats what humanity been doing, we’ve been messing around, playing with our gifts of technology and culture, and developing these gifts. Now we are coming into ‘adulthood’, and its time to apply them to our true purpose. At the beginning that will be simply heal the damage thats been done. And there’s a lot of healing that needs to be done. and its almost impossible actually. You could say we are really in the business of creating miracle here on earth. I’m saying that its something impossible from an old understanding of reality but possible from a new one.And in fact its necessary, and in fact anything less than that is even worth trying.”