Report from the 6th Annual AMI Monetary Reform Conference, held in Chicago September 30th- October 3rd 2010

Participants and speakers came from Asia, Europe, Australia, and New Zealand to share their understandings and analyses of not only the monetary system but also the larger systems in which finance is embedded that affect the United States and the entire world. Awards were given to Green Party activists Dee Berry and Ben Kjelshus, who helped get a monetary reform plank in the Green Party platform, and to Professor Steve Keen from Australia, whose advance modeling has contributed to our understanding of monetary science, and separately to Professor Kaoru Yamaguchi from Japan for advancing monetary science and reform.

Stephen Zarlenga, author of The Lost Science of Money - The Mythology of Money - the Story of Power and co-founder of the American Monetary Institute , noted that the severe nature of the monetary problem cannot be denied or hidden anymore. Modern economists, in general, have been disgraced, as they have justified forms of usury to empower those misusing the world’s money systems in favor of utility over morality. He quoted Henry George, who wrote

“[economics]…a science which…seems but to justify injustice, to canonize selfishness by throwing around it the halo of utility…”

The vast majority of people can see that the financially powerful are taking advantage of the weak. The real battle has been over whether the creation of money will be private or public, and how to define money. Zarlenga has concluded from his study that

“money is an abstract social power - an institution of the law, becoming money because government receives it in taxes, and having value because of people working in a supportive legal and social structure producing values for life.”

Without monetary reform there cannot be democracy. The main parts of the American Monetary Act would nationalize the Federal Reserve and incorporate it into the Treasury Department, prohibit private banks from creating money, and allow the government to create money by spending it on infrastructure, including healthcare and education and a one-time citizens’ dividend. (His opening remarks are posted here.)

New Zealander Jamie Walton detailed the minimum planks of the American Monetary Act that would be necessary to put time on the side of the people, acknowledging that many more reforms would be needed before the Act could even get passed by Congress. He emphasized that monetary reform was the key to all the other things that we seek-recovery, stability, prosperity, sustainability, justice, peace, security, and freedom. (Yamaguchi’s sophisticated model shows how this reform would theoretically work demonstrating that it can pay off the national debt without inflation).

Congressman Dennis Kucinich participated via video praising Zarlenga and the AMI’s work and stating that he hoped to introduce a bill incorporating the American Monetary Act’s main proposals into Congress this November.

Monetary experts Robert Poteat, Professor Nic Tideman, and Dick Distelhorst made eloquent, powerful cases for the need for monetary reform as soon as possible, emphasizing the moral imperative of money being used to serve people rather than to rob the many for the benefit of the few. David Kelley also spoke about how to counter the lies, blasting the Orwellian language and rhetoric that so often paralyzes the public. “We need to understand profoundly the depth and magnitude of the looting that is going on-identify it, name it, stop it.”

I spoke at the conference on “Strategy for the Monetary Reform Movement,” trying to identify where we are historically and point to the most effective steps to take. Every speaker seemed to shine a light on some aspect or facet of the unique time we are living in, as well as the larger patterns, to help us identify leverage points to turn the system from its destructive path to the direction of justice, truth, morality, and life.

Greg Coleridge described his work with the Program on Corporations, Law and Democracy (POCLAD). He spent a considerable amount of time researching the roots of our problems, eventually identifying the corporate form and its history. Subsequently POCLAD traveled around the country, educating people about the need to rein in corporate personhood, whose power is perhaps the greatest threat to humanity today. He mentioned (as I had) the Populist Party and how they worked, and succeeded to some degree, to rein in the corporations over a hundred years ago, and how the real battle that we find ourselves in is the corporate colonization of our minds, the struggle between people power and corporate power. In the wake of the Supreme Court ruling that allowed corporations to spend an unlimited amount of money on elections, they launched MoveToAmend.org to end corporate rule and legalize democracy! (The text of his talk The Rigor of Research and Fundamental Monetary Change is posted on his Create Real Democracy Blog)

Professor Michael Hudson, author of Super Imperialism: The Economic Strategy of American Empire, in his talk, also mentioned that the transference of wealth taking place today rivals the corporate giveaways to the railroads in the 1800s and described it in biological terms. He said that parasites not only numb their hosts but can actually affect their brains so that their hosts think that the parasite is part of them, and even steer their hosts towards food so that the parasites can feed themselves. The financial parasites are clearly devouring the productive capacity of the Earth at tremendous human and environmental cost, and they couldn’t do so without controlling the public mind or the media. Professor Hudson also spoke about the looting of the Savings and Loans in the 1980s which began the most dramatic period of the criminalization of the financial industry. A supporter of the AMI’s proposed reforms, he advised us to broaden our focus to include the fiscal reforms that must accompany monetary reform; the land issue and money issues are impossible to separate. (Video link of this talk is posted here-after the article).

Both Professor Keen and Professor Yamaguchi had separately developed complex computer models to show the dysfunctionality of the current debt-based system, as well as to demonstrate where reforms could be introduced to remedy the situation. Professor Keen’s main point was that credit itself was not bad, depending on what it was created for. When introduced into the system for productive purposes, it is not harmful, but when introduced to fuel speculation, it can be disastrous and serves to act as the devouring parasite. He suggested adding other measures to prohibit parasitic speculation. Professor Yamaguchi’s model was more complex than Professor Keen’s. He showed how the system would work if the AMI’s monetary reforms were introduced; he provided his software to everyone for free to try out and get our feedback. (His model was also presented at the plenary session of the System Dynamics International Conference in Korea in July of 2010 to the substantial approval of the audience - On the Liquidation of Government Debt under A Debt-Free Money System-
Modeling the American Monetary Act)(Video links of both talks are posted here-after the article.)

Steven Walsh, who has been studying colonial script, facilitated the group discussion for several hours to draw out our collective wisdom in identifying goals, obstacles, blocks, language, and processes we need to think about if we are to succeed in winning over the public, implementing monetary reform, and realizing our higher goals. Ben Dyson described his accomplishments and efforts in the U.K. to convert “enemies” into allies and gain public support to enact similar legislative reforms under the banner of “Positive Money” and a win/win situation for everyone.

Tommy Gregory of the U.S. Department of Agriculture in the National Agricultural Statistics Service and organic farmer Douglas Wolfe examined agricultural issues and how money, parity, and policy decisions affect farmers, the crops they grow, and consequently human health. The monetary issue can’t really be separated from land and tax issues, since money, land, military force or taxes can be used to force people from the land or enslave and rob them. Today, there has never been greater inequities, or a concentration of wealth and power in the hands of a few. William Bergman described, in brief, his experiences at the Federal Reserve Bank in Chicago, and how he viewed the bailout, the winners and the losers.

The participants were as interesting as the speakers. A challenge for the organizers was that there wasn’t enough time for everyone to meet or for all the conversations we wanted to have with each other. The rule of organizing is that one must double the time one estimates is necessary to accomplish any task. With monetary reform we have learned from history that there is always tremendous opposition, but the current situation offers us a rare opportunity to educate ourselves and the public and to overcome the obstacles to achieving genuine reform.

Steven Keen also wrote a report on this conference and posted it at his website www.debtdeflation.com with links to videos of his presentation, as well as Professor Hudson and Professor Yamaguchi’s talks. Here is Professor Yamaguchi in a video interview by Joe Bongiovanni and Peter Young.

Dick Distlehorst and Robert Poteat spoke on the Community Currency radio show on Monetary Reform, Thursday, October 7, 2010. Distlehorst made strong suggestions on actions that people can take.