Wednesday, August 12, 2009

Local Currency and Re-Valuation of Our Economy

This piece is so good and really gets at the heart of what local currencies work to address so I will let it speak for itself. On Kauai there is a movement afoot to introduce a local currency. If you are interested check out The peace below comes from The Department of Heartland Security and the heartland matrix blog.

"Re-Valuation" Counseling:
Building the "Real" Economy and a Healthy, Wealthy Commonwealth

By Steve Bhaerman

"They say economic recovery is just around the corner,
but I think our karma spun out going around that last learning curve."
-- Swami Beyondananda

As the house of credit cards economy reveals itself to be little more than empty promises that have emptied the bank accounts of far too many, we are left with some sobering questions in the wake of a 30-year binge.

We've been so collectively hypnotized into believing that the power of money has the right to rule, that paper wealth is real, and that every American has the "moral" right to selfishly pursue wealth as the primary "value" of life, that we didn't see it coming. Or going. (For an excellent and balanced take on how we collectively deluded ourselves and why, please check out this article on Rethinking the American Dream in the April, 2009 issue of Vanity Fair.)

In the endless pursuit of "wealth," two things were missing. First, we failed to accurately define what wealth really is. Second, we neglected to understand where real wealth comes from. In my work over the past three years on Spontaneous Evolution, I've gained a better understanding from nature's point of view of the source and nature of "true wealth."

We can begin to gain new perspective when we go back to the original meaning of "wealth." It comes from the same root as well being. This would indicate that wealth and health are related, making the notion of "can we afford health care" as a patently absurd question. But that is for another conversation. For now, let's see what nature has to say about a "healthy commonwealth."

What Would Nature Do?

Inside the body and in nature, "wealth" is the equivalent of energy, the ability to do the work necessary for the organism to thrive. The body's "wealth" is stored and "spent" via ATP (adenosine triphosphate), which Bruce Lipton describes as "the molecular equivalent of a re-chargeable battery." Cells tap the energy from ATP molecules to empower cellular function.

Biology textbooks even refer to ATP as "the coin of the realm," recognizing it as a means of energy exchange. Cells are "paid" in ATP, and excess energy is stored as ATP in "banks" called fat cells. If we "follow the ATP," we find that cells work for the system and pool their ATP. In the cellular economy, there is universal health care, full employment and truly "no cell left behind." However, this is no purely "communist" system. Cells whose work is more vital to the system are "paid more," and may even have their own entourages of "helper cells" working for them.

Instead of individual accounts, energy reserves are available for the use (and betterment) of the entire "community" (i.e., organism). These resources are allocated as needed to build. upgrade or repair the body's infrastructure. Oh, and there is no borrowing, and no credit. You can't run up an ATP tab on your Ascended Mastercard and pay for it next lifetime.

Without becoming too anthropomorphic (cells hate it when we do that), we can still draw some powerful conclusions from the economy beneath our skins that allows some 50 trillion cells to thrive:

1. True wealth is energy, representing the ability to do work (i.e., to live long and prosper).

2. All cells, regardless of what work they do, are given what they need to thrive. No cell has to "worry" where its next paycheck is coming from.

3. Functions that are most valuable to the organism receive more resources, and stored resources are likewise distributed for the benefit of the entire system.

4. The economy is limited to resources available.

For a more detailed discussion of how the cellular economy can inform our human economy ... well, it's in the book, and (see below) the book will be out in a matter of weeks. For now, let's look at another conclusion we come to about how the human economy can better approximate the natural economy, and how two key human qualities can magnify the resources of the natural world.

The "Real" Economy

When we boil away all the derivatives, all the financial leverage, all of the non-existent paper (or more accurately, digits), what are we left with? What does the "real" economy consist of? Our answer is, five things:

1. The Energy From the Sun.
2. Food From the Earth.
3. Love.
4. Imagination.
5. Community and Awareness.

1. Energy From the Sun. For our purposes, the sun is our 24/7 sustainable generator of "wealth" in the form of energy. Whatever fuels we use -- from wind and tides, to coal, gas and oil (what Thom Hartmann called "ancient sunlight") -- we have been given an energy source that is, for our purposes, infinite. Our simple task is to harness and magnify this source in the present time as solar energy.

2. Food From the Earth. As Charles Walters points out in Unforgiven, his provocative study of the economic theories of Carl Wilken, "all new wealth comes from the soil." Imagine this ... you plant a kernel of corn, and with a minimum of cultivation, a corn plant sprouts, yielding thousands of kernels that can be likewise planted. This is so obvious that it can be overlooked. Nature produces new wealth every season.

3. Love. Yes, love. This most under-developed of Divinely-given human resources is the "glue" that holds our world together. It is a key component of a truly wealthy economy because it facilitates all things good. Consequently, it is a secret factor in economic efficiency. Where love proliferates, we need less "stuff." Nurturance prevents problems (e.g., crime, illness) that are costly later. And like loaves and fishes, love can infinitely reproduce without diminishment.

4. Imagination. Another under-utilized tool, imagination is the precursor for the technology that allows us to multiply our finite resources. Perhaps more importantly, imagination is what makes us "surrogate gods," or as Swami calls us, "the Creator's creation created to create." Oh, and love + imagination = beauty, another form of nourishment we too often ignore.

5. Community and Awareness. As we point out in Spontaneous Evolution, every stage of evolution involves expanding community and expanding awareness. Just as surely as single cell organisms became more "economically efficient" by combining into multi-cell ones, increased awareness (on both the internet and outernet) and interwoven community make us economically more efficient, and spiritually more free.

In practical terms, this means that our entire economic understanding is up for "re-valuation." As we value assets (tangible and spiritual), we now must adhere to a new bottom line:

1. Does it enhance our ability to produce and use sustainable energy?
2. Does it provide clean and nourishing food and water?
3. Does it add to happiness, beauty, nurturance or functionality?
4. Does it provide for necessary protection?
5. Does it magnify our resources through clean technology and creative invention?
6. Does it add to healing and preventive medicine? (Hint: the preventive remedy for dis-ease is ... ease!)

These are the questions we must address collectively ... and we will. However, the first significant step is for each of us to address this personally and with our families. We must "re-valuate" what we are spending and "feeding," consciously and unconsciously. Here are a few opening questions to get the internal (and family) conversation going:

1. What is, for me, truly valuable? (Hint: It has something to do with mission, purpose and heart's desire.)

2. What is most valuable for my wellbeing and the wellbeing of my family?

3. How well does my work represent my values?

4. How closely do my expenditures -- not just in money, but in time, attention and intention -- reflect these values?

5. How can I shift this "spending" to reflect what is most valuable to me, and for a healed planet?

For example: Are there habitual expenses that we make almost unconsciously that can be shifted to something more nourishing? Are we "feeding" something out of habit that might be better starved? Are we supporting economic entities that are extracting wealth from our communities, or ones that are making our communities more vital, sustainable and self-sufficient? Are we unconsciously supporting media that diminishes love and intelligence?

Consider how easy it would be to shift $10 or $50 or $100 each month from something that is either harmful or unnecessary, to something that is more generative? These ideas are not offered so we can "punish" or deprive ourselves, but rather so that we can become more conscious and more responsible "cells" and selves in this emerging organism called Humanity. What if we took what we spent on People magazine, and spent that resource on People's media? What if we withdrew our savings from predatory mega-banks, and banked them with local banks or credit unions? What if we shifted a few dollars a month from processed to organic food, from fast food to slow food?

You get the idea ... we have more choices than we can imagine, and in making these choices we can and will strengthen the truly nourishing, healing and loving forces in our society. And to further develop our understanding ...

Upcoming Economics of Peace Conference Sprays Economic Mystery with "De-Mystifier"

About five years ago, I made a new friend, Georgia Kelly. I remembered Georgia as the world-renowned harpist who had her own record label in the 1980s. While Georgia still keeps a hand -- actually, two hands -- in music, her work and passion in recent years is the Praxis Peace Institute. As founder and director of Praxis, Georgia brings enlightening speakers to the Bay Area, and has hosted several conferences. I have been part of her two most recent (Pacific Grove in 2004, and Dubrovnik, Croatia in 2007).

I am proud and delighted to be participating in what might be Praxis's most important conference of all -- the Economics of Peace: Transforming Money, Rebuilding Community, Redefining Wealth conference to be held in Sonoma, California, October 18th-23rd, 2009.

Speakers include U.S. Representatives Dennis Kucinich and Lynn Woolsey, social scientist and author Riane Eisler, best-selling author Sam Keen, philosopher Jacob Needleman, visionary economists James Galbraith, Tom Greco and David Korten ... and many more. The Swami will be providing comic relief, and here's something else unique and interesting: Instead of taking place in a sterile hotel setting, the Economics of Peace will utilize the vibrant local downtown of Sonoma, California.

Because the town of Sonoma is designed like a European city with a central town square and park, the conference will have a center without being confined to a hotel. Many conference sessions and breaks will take place outdoors, and café discussion groups will actually happen in ... cafés!

Daily plenary sessions will take place in the historic Sebastiani Theater on the square in downtown Sonoma. Local cafes will supply food and beverages during breaks and for discussion groups. The Evening sessions will be in the Sonoma Community Center or the Veterans Memorial Building. All conference venues, restaurants, shops, and several hotels and B&Bs are within easy walking distance of each other. This is a "walkable" conference with daily exercise and fresh air built into the schedule.

If you're looking for practical education in the true future of economics, if you're looking to find a community of like-hearted "co-hearts" and thoughtful thinkers, all in a beautiful and inspiring setting, please put this event on your calendar. You can register now and get a special bonus -- a small luncheon with one of four speakers. To find out more, please call (707) 939-2973.

I certainly hope to see you there!

Spontaneous Evolution: We're in the Om Stretch!

The first boxes of Spontaneous Evolution are being prepared as I write this, and will be here -- and ready to ship -- within a couple of weeks. The "limited time" part of our limited time pre-order offer will be coming to an end in just one week ... So, if you would like your copy autographed by yours truly (Bruce is in New Zealand right now and even though he signs his books in long hand, his hand just isn't that long ...) and including other bonuses, now is the time to go order here.

In addition to the Heartland Security downloadable audio, and background article on why the world has gone crazy and where to find the key to the "sane asylum" (Institutionalized Insanity), I am offering another article that sheds light on economic history and expands on the essay above: It's called Original Wealth and People's Capitalism, and will -- along with the other article -- be available for download this week.

If you can't wait a couple of weeks for the book, you can add Bruce and Steve's Spontaneous Evolution 5CD set to your order , and we will ship you the CD set now and pick up the (U.S.) shipping. Just go here to order.

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