The following is my paper for the Claremont Colleges’ conference, Seizing an Alternative Toward an Ecological Civilization, with open registration to the public on June 4-7, 2015.
‘Emperor’s New Clothes’ political collapse: Seizing an alternative to OBVIOUS unlawful wars, bankster looting, lying corporate media
I’ve divided the paper into sections:
Bankster looting: fundamental fraud that “debt” is “money” (5 of 7)
This section is: Bankster looting: fundamental fraud that “debt” is “money” (5 of 7)
15-minute video of obvious solutions: Mark Anielski and Ellen Brown’s powerful 15-minute response to an interview at the Seizing an Alternative conference (and here, with videos here) with former World Bank economist Herman Daly and co-author John B. Cobb of For the Common Good (video should start at 1:04:43):
Our “monetary system” is a debt system, impossible to ever decrease or repay
“That is to say, under the old way any time we wish to add to the national wealth we are compelled to add to the national debt. Now, that is what Henry Ford wants to prevent. He thinks it is stupid, and so do I, that for the loan of $30,000,000 of their own money the people of the United States should be compelled to pay $66,000,000 — that is what it amounts to, with interest. …But here is the point: If our nation can issue a dollar bond, it can issue a dollar bill. …It is absurd to say that our country can issue $30,000,000 in bonds and not $30,000,000 in currency. Both are promises to pay; but one promise fattens the usurer, and the other helps the people.” – Thomas Edison and Henry Ford, interview with NY Times, 1921
“When our Federal Government, that has the exclusive power to create money, creates that money and then goes into the open market and borrows it and pays interest for the use of its own money, it occurs to me that that is going too far. I have never yet had anyone who could, through the use of logic and reason, justify the Federal Government borrowing the use of its own money… The Constitution of the United States does not give the banks the power to create money. The Constitution says that Congress shall have the power to create money, but now, under our system, we will sell bonds to commercial banks and obtain credit from those banks. I believe the time will come when people will demand that this be changed. I believe the time will come in this country when they will actually blame you and me and everyone else connected with this Congress for sitting idly by and permitting such an idiotic system to continue. I make that statement after years of study.” – Wright Patman (27) : excerpts from September 29, 1941, as reported in the Congressional Record of the House of Representatives (pages 7582-7583).
The UK Guardian is Earth’s third most-read on-line newspaper. In a revealing article, The truth is out: money is just an IOU, and the banks are rolling it in, the author explains what the Bank of England and US Federal Reserve admit:
What we use for money is created as debt by private banks.
This system is like adding negative numbers forever. The aggregate debt only gets larger, and will never be repaid because this is what we use for money. Also, as we see today, the interest and debt total become so tragic-comic we can’t get close to affording to pay.
What this also means is that with monetary and credit reform the public could have instant prosperity: full-employment, zero public deficits and debt, the best infrastructure we can imagine, falling prices, and release of public TRILLIONS held in “rainy day” accounts.
These solutions are OBVIOUS with a few moments of attention, and affirmed by leading Americans since Benjamin Franklin. See for yourself with what we have now, and what these solutions offer.
What we have:
US “leaders” psychopathically pretend to care about American labor while lying about a real unemployment rate of close to 25% (the so-called “official” rate excludes under-employed and discouraged workers). Along with unemployment, Americans receive policy enabling oligarchs to “legally” hide $20 to $30 trillion in offshore tax havens in a rigged-casino economy designed for “peak inequality.” For comparison, $1 to $3 trillion ends global poverty forever, saving a million children’s lives every month from slow and gruesome death (here, here).
We have escalating and unpayable national debt, a real-inflation rate more than double the stated rate, and because private banks and their admitted privately-owned pinnacle bank, the Fed, create credit/debt for what we use as money, this becomes the literal mother of all conflicts of interest. If the Fed were to deliver its three stated goals of “maximize employment, stable prices, and moderate long-term interest rates,” we have a stunning observation: an honest Fed would at least ask for independent professional cost-benefit analyses to determine if government-created debt-free money and public credit would do better than their ever-increasing and unpayable aggregate debt.
- North Dakota has a public bank for at-cost credit that results in it being the only state with annual increasing surpluses rather than deficits.
- The Big Banks demand public subsidies (so-called “bailouts”) while gambling with over $200 TRILLION in derivatives with the same fraudulent methods as the subprime gambling. They’re not even banks anymore; deriving most of their income from subsidies and apparent market manipulations.
- Without public credit, governments hoard (and gamble) with “rainy day” accounts. The total from all government sources in California from school boards, cities, counties, public services, and the state is a game-changing $8 TRILLION: ~$650,000 of wealth per household that could be released!
What is monetary and credit reform? Since the 1913 legislation of the Federal Reserve, the US has had a national “debt system;” the Orwellian opposite of a monetary system. What we use for money is created as a debt, with the consequence of unpayable and increasing aggregate debt. This is the simple description of the sum of forever increasing negative numbers. Although it’s taught in every macroeconomics course in structure, the consequences of increasing and unpayable debt are omitted (unpayable because it destroys what is used for money, and eventually the debt becomes tragic-comic in amount).
Monetary reform nationalizes the Federal Reserve (this name is deceptive so the public would perceive it as a government entity) and retain its use for bank administrative functions. Fractional reserve lending by private banks would be made illegal, with the US Treasury having sole legal authority to issue new money for the benefit of the American public rather than the benefit of the banking industry. About 30% of the national debt is intra-governmental holdings and ~16% held by the Fed; this debt would be cancelled as it becomes a bookkeeping entry with nationalization. Of the publicly-held debt of various parties holding US Securities, the US Treasury would monetize (pay) the debt in proportion to fractional reserves being replaced with full reserves over a period of one to two years to monitor money supply and avoid inflation. This means the US government would create debt-free money to pay the debt as it’s due exactly to the extent that private banks’ ability to create credit is reduced. The purpose of this is to avoid inflation. In contrast, today we only pay the interest in the national debt, similar to a household paying only the interest of an outrageous credit card debt as the total owed only and always increases in tragic-comedy.
The American Monetary Institute has a proposal called the American Monetary Act to do this. This proposal was also endorsed by America’s best-known economist, Milton Friedman, as the single most important action possible for US economic improvement (see footnote 14 on this monetary reform proposal).
The governmental cost of this reform is negligible because it simply authorizes Congress to enter money into its own account to directly pay for public goods and services. In fact, Americans would save money from decreased reliance on managing taxes.
The benefits are astounding: the American public would no longer pay over $400 billion every year for national debt interest payments (because almost 50% of the debt is intra-governmental transfers, this is a savings of over $200 billion/year). If lending is run at a non-profit rate or at nominal interest returned to the American public (for infrastructure, schools, fire and police protection, etc.) rather than profiting the banks, the savings to the US public is conservatively $2 trillion. Of $60 trillion total debt, a conservative current interest cost of 5% is $3 trillion every year. Two trillion dollars of savings if the profits are transferred to the American public rather than to the banking industry is probably low. If the US Federal government increased the money supply by 3% a year to keep up with population increase and economic growth, we could spend an additional $500 billion yearly into public programs, or refund it as a public dividend. This savings would allow us to simplify or eliminate the income tax (of the US Federal government’s ~$4 trillion annual budget, about $1.7 trillion is received from income tax). The estimated savings of eliminating the income tax with all its complexity, loopholes, and evasion is $250 billion/year. The total benefits for monetary reform are conservatively over three trillion dollars every year to the American public. Three trillion is $3,000,000,000,000. This saves the ~100 million US households an average of $30,000 every year. Another way to calculate the savings is to figure those amounts per $50,000 annual household income (for example, if your household earns $100,000/year, you save ~$60,000 every year with these reforms).
Monetary reform creates debt-free money as a public service for the direct payment of public goods and services. This would replace the existing system of creating what we use for money out of debt; both from the Federal Reserve issuing credit for US federal debt instruments charged to taxpayers with interest, and private banks issuing credit through fractional reserve lending.
Closely related is credit reform that replaces private bank credit with public credit (and here). This transfers interest payments from private profits to public service. Trial and error will inform total money supply, with an option of removing money from the supply through some form of simple taxation. For example, if public credit issues mortgages and credit cards at ~5%, this form of taxation can pay for public goods and services with the ability to raise or lower the interest rate.
To be clear about these astounding benefits of public banking: if your state issued mortgages and a credit card at 5% interest, this would replace all current state taxes while abundantly funding all current state public goods and services. It also releases CAFR funds back to the public worth TRILLIONS.
Benefits of monetary and credit reform: no debt, optimal infrastructure, falling prices: The benefits include paying the national debt, ending a national debt forever, issuing money and credit for full employment, and optimal infrastructure. The prima facie case of benefits should undergo professional multiple and independent cost-benefit analyses. The facts that a Federal Reserve-type debt-based system causes unpayable debt, unemployment, inflation, and decaying infrastructure is relatively easy to demonstrate.
Full employment, optimal infrastructure, falling prices: Government can become the employer of last resort for hard and soft infrastructure investment. This provides triple benefits for employment, the best infrastructure we can imagine, and falling overall prices to the extent infrastructure investment contributes more economic output relative to costs of inputs. History demonstrates infrastructure investment does reduce overall prices in the current debt-funded model that typically adds ~50% of the projects’ nominal cost to its total cost. Monetary reform with infrastructure means the cost of debt-funding disappears, making this employment even more attractive.
Additional anticipated benefits are reductions of crime and other social costs related to human despair as people see and participate in creating a brighter future for all.
To contrast with our current Emperor’s New Clothes farce:
The statutory purposes of the Fed (57) are stable prices, maximum employment, and moderate interest rates. For prices, consider for yourself how well they’ve done since the Fed began in 1913. Ask adults if prices have remained stable in their lifetimes or if they’ve increased just a teensy-weensy little bit. You could, of course, also check the data and confirm that the dollar has lost over 95% of its value since the Fed went to work for “stable prices.” Importantly, you haven’t been told that official measurements for inflation were redefined in 1980 and 1990 that lowers today’s inflation rate by ~8%. Examine the cumulative effect of accelerating prices 30 times more expensive since the Fed began in 1913 (and here), and feel free to play with the Fed’s Consumer Price Index (CPI) calculator to compare their claims of prices over time.
For employment, consider that we have unemployed people in this country, resources to put to work, and infrastructure to improve; then judge the Fed’s effectiveness in creating money only as debt. Unemployment only occurs because money is debt in our current system; we would not have this problem if government restored this Constitutional power and issued money directly. If we were serious about achieving the goal of full employment, OBVIOUSLY the only way to achieve it is for government to be the employer of last resort. In market failure of what free-market capitalism cannot employ, we either put people to work on infrastructure/public service jobs, or we don’t achieve our goal of full employment. Please ponder that idea to full realization. If the public jobs provided to the unemployed and funded by government-created money provide greater economic benefit than their cost, then inflation will actually decrease from creating those jobs. That is conservative definition of how inflation/deflation works.
The official definition of “unemployment” is also a lie of omission. If someone works just one hour a week, they are considered “employed.” If adults want work, and are not currently applying for jobs because they have found their efforts in vain, they are not counted as “unemployed.” If we counted unemployment the same way we did in the Great Depression, the US has had that same level of unemployment since 2009: between 20% and 25% unemployment. You might consider the explanation of Paul Craig Roberts, former Assistant Secretary of the US Treasury, and Wall Street Journal editor.
Another angle of minimizing our costs for unemployment: consider that the US Government Interagency Council on Homelessness has compiled every known study on cost-benefits of housing the homeless, and providing food, medical care and job-employment services versus just leaving them on the streets. In every case study the costs are less to take action for their care. Ponder that.
For interest rates, the greatest effect to minimize this cost to the public is with public banking. For example, if we had a “Bank of California” with public credit issued mortgages and credit cards at ~5%, this form of taxation would abundantly pay for all California public goods and services while eliminating all need for taxation. It also releases CAFR funds back to the public worth TRILLIONS. These include “rainy day” funds no longer necessary if they had access to at-cost credit.
Remember: the Federal Reserve is a privately-owned corporation that exists to maximize its own profit. It is not in their profit-interests to disclose these options. In fact, Congressman Oscar Callaway demanded investigation into JP Morgan & Company in 1917 for purchasing control over America’s leading 25 newspapers to propagandize US public opinion in favor of the Federal Reserve system and to push the US into World War 1.
Perhaps the fact that you’ve had to read this information here is evidence that corporate media is still owned today: just six US corporations control ~90% of what Americans get for news. Consider this: MIT’s Simon Johnson (and former Chief Economist of the International Monetary Fund) describes our big banks being led by gambling oligarchs who have captured government as in “banana republics” (his words). He concludes fraud is the heart of Wall Street. His immediate best-selling book, 13 Bankers: The Wall Street takeover and the next financial meltdown, was discussed with President Johnson’s Press Secretary and journalist with over 30 Emmy Awards, Bill Moyers, to explain the US banking system, loss of trillions of American taxpayer dollars to oligarchs’ manipulation as a matter of definitive fact, the looting of America being protected by partners with political muscle, and all rational consideration of the facts proving massive financial crimes:
SIMON JOHNSON: The American democracy was not given to us on a platter. It is not ours for all time, irrespective of our efforts. Either people organize and they find political leadership to take this on, or we are going to be in big trouble, okay?… That’s absolutely the heart of the problem. I would also say and tell you, and emphasize, these people will not come out and debate with us. The heads of these companies or their representatives, they will not come out. They’re afraid. They don’t have the substance. They don’t have the arguments. We have the evidence. They have the lobbyists. And that’s all they have.
BILL MOYERS: They’ve got the power, the muscle, the money.
SIMON JOHNSON: They have money.
BILL MOYERS: You just have the arguments. You just have the facts. On your side.
SIMON JOHNSON: Absolutely. That’s exactly what it comes down to.
To conclude, if the performance of the Fed is acceptable to you along with its $3 trillion dollar annual cost compared to monetary reform and public banking, feel free to defend it.
As we move to our final section on corporate media collusion to “cover” these war and money crimes, let’s close this section considering corporate media lies of omission to cause public ignorance that Benjamin Franklin discovered it was possible to manage colonial Pennsylvania’s government without taxes. This is similar to what I documented above as public credit.
Franklin was so inspired by the idea that he wrote a pamphlet, commending people like you to understand this vital idea of what we create and use for money:
“There is no Science, the Study of which is more useful and commendable than the Knowledge of the true Interest of one’s Country; and perhaps there is no Kind of Learning more abstruse and intricate, more difficult to acquire in any Degree of Perfection than This, and therefore none more generally neglected. – Benjamin Franklin, A Modest Enquiry into the Nature and Necessity of Paper Currency, 1729 (more history here).
Note: I make all factual assertions as a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History, with all economics factual claims receiving zero refutation since I began writing in 2008 among Advanced Placement Macroeconomics teachers on our discussion board, public audiences of these articles, and international conferences. I invite readers to empower their civic voices with the strongest comprehensive facts most important to building a brighter future. I challenge professionals, academics, and citizens to add their voices for the benefit of all Earth’s inhabitants.
Carl Herman is a National Board Certified Teacher of US Government, Economics, and History; also credentialed in Mathematics. He worked with both US political parties over 18 years and two UN Summits with the citizen’s lobby, RESULTS, for US domestic and foreign policy to end poverty. He can be reached at Carl_Herman@post.harvard.edu
Note: Examiner.com has blocked public access to my articles on their site (and from other whistleblowers), so some links in my previous work are blocked. If you’d like to search for those articles other sites may have republished, use words from the article title within the blocked link. Or, go to http://archive.org/web/, paste the expired link into the box, click “Browse history,” then click onto the screenshots of that page for each time it was screen-shot and uploaded to webarchive. I’ll update as “hobby time” allows; including my earliest work from 2009 to 2011 (blocked author pages: here, here).