Toward an Economy based on Curiosity and Caring
Instead of Greed

by Paul Krumm

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"When plunder becomes a way of life for a group of men living together in society, they create for themselves, in the course of time, a legal system that authorizes it and a moral code that glorifies it." - Frederic Bastiat


  • While the network of money transactions around the world is very complex, the way money works is really rather simple, and is understandable by the ordinary person.

  • The study of the operation of money is pivotal to any discussion of cultural values and social justice, as money is the basic language of economic relationships, and the values built into this language impact all social relationships.

In this paper we will describe how the present money game is structured.  We will show that the idea that money is value neutral is not correct, and go on to describe how money functions to promote greed.

Some preliminary suggestions will be given, based on theory and what has worked in the past, to change the values built into our money to ones that are more congruent with a curiosity and caring driven economy.

We will also show how the present money game is not sustainable, note that the same changes that lead to a curiosity and caring based system are the same changes that make money and our economy sustainable. 

What is money?

First we must understand what money is.  Most definitions of money talk about what it does, not what it is.  Bernard Lietaer, the technical developer behind the transition from the various European currencies to the Euro defines what money is as follows:

“Money is an agreement, within a community to use something as a medium of exchange.”1

Recognizing that money is a social agreement, we are free to to study the nuts and bolts of the rules of this agreement, see what results follow from these rules, and consider changes to these rules that will make the system more stable, sustainable, and better reflect the values of caring, curiosity, compassion, sustainability, and justice. 

What money does2

There are three basic functions of money.

  • measure of value
  • medium of exchange in what had previously been a barter economy.
  • measure of who has contributed how much to the economy, and who has consumed how much from the economy.

 Three additional functions have been added in our present money system. 

  • store of value,
  • medium for speculation
  • tool of imperialism.

Some readers will consider that store of value is one of the basic functions of money.  However the historical record shows that in a number of cultures, money did not have this function.  Interestingly, these cultures were much more stable over the long term than those that have included store of value in their definition of money.  This history will be described later. The medium for speculation function is closely tied to the store of value function.   

The central control of availability of money is a powerful tool that has been wielded by bankers and politicians to promote projects that they value, and not allow the initiation of projects that they do not want. In this way, the financial industry has controlled political decisions.

Kinds of money

Traditionally there have been two kinds of money.

●Commodity backed money                       ● Pure faith and trust money

Examples of commodity backed money:



cowry shells

stones                                    precious metals, especially silver and gold

many other objects and materials have been used as money.
slaves grain

As can be clearly seen from the above examples these forms of money are created by the industry of individuals or groups of individuals.  Some forms, like slaves, may seem alien to us, but in their times, they were considered by those who used them to be legitimate assets from/for their work.

Backed money systems are based on faith and trust that the money actually represents some commodity or basket of commodities and that the money can be redeemed for a tangible asset. 

Examples of faith based money:

●      The prime example is our international money system. 

Pure faith money has no value in and of itself.  It gets its value solely from the faith and trust of members of the market that they can trade it for any good or service that they want or need, and that its value will be constant over time. (The latter assumption is often not met.)

How does a faith based money system work?

  • Faith based money is not stuff in the ordinary sense. It is simply accounting information on a balance sheet - numbers on paper, on a check, or in a computer reading a credit or debit card
  • Our money has no value in and of itself.  It can't do anything itself.  To become useful it has to be traded for some object or service.

  • The reason that we value our money is that it can be traded for useful objects and services.

  • Since faith money is a measuring stick, not an object, it can, like other information, be created in any amount at will, by whoever is allowed/authorized to do so.  Compare money to inches.  Just as inches are used to measure distance, money is used to measure economic activity.
  • Shortages or surpluses of money can be, and often are, created by the institutions authorized to create it.  Surpluses cause inflation (bubbles), and shortages cause deflation and contraction of the economy.
  • The amount of money in circulation is a measure of the collective debt of all traders. (We will use the term trader to describe and integrate both the consumer and producer functions of productive people.)
  • One advantage of using a faith based accounting system for trade (over money based on some commodity or group of commodities) is that the money supply can be expanded and contracted at will to balance the need for money in trade. Another is that the value of everything else is not dependent on changes and manipulation in the value of the reference commodity or commodities.

Money is created when a trader does not have a positive balance, and buys goods or services from other traders, making a commitment to place goods or services in the marketplace of equal value in the future. In practice, the buyer's (consumer's) account gets a negative entry, creating money for the transaction, and the seller's (producer's) account gets a positive entry.  As the buyer makes sales and reduces his/her negative balance to zero, the money is extinguished.

  • Accounting money in its pure form (when it serves only the first three functions of money) is a zero sum game.
  • In our money system, for traders, money is a negative sum game.The reason for this lies in the way that money is currently created.

To get the flavor of how our money works, consider the following two stories.

The first is from Bernard Lietaer. It gives a flavor of how our money system basically works in a simple economy.3

The Eleventh Round

Once upon a time, in a small village in the Outback, people used barter for all their transactions. On every market day, people walked around with chickens, eggs, hams and breads, and engaged in prolonged negotiations among themselves to exchange what they needed. At key periods of the year, like harvests or whenever someone’s barn needed big repairs after a storm, people recalled the tradition of helping each other out that they had brought from the old country. They knew that if they had a problem some day, others would aid them in return.

One market day, a stranger with shiny black shoes and an elegant white hat came by and observed the whole process with a sardonic smile. When he saw one farmer running around to corral the six chickens he wanted to exchange for a big ham, he could not refrain from laughing. ‘Poor people,’ he said, ‘so primitive.’ The farmer’s wife overheard him and challenged the stranger, Do you think you can do a better job handling chickens?’ ‘Chickens, no,’ responded the stranger. ‘But there is a much better way to eliminate all that hassle.’ ‘Oh yes, how so?’ asked the woman. ‘See that tree there?’ the stranger replied. ‘Well, I will go wait there for one of you to bring me one large cowhide. Then have every family visit me. I’ll explain the better way. And so it happened. He took the cowhide, and cut perfect leather rounds in it, and put an elaborate and graceful little stamp on each round. Then he gave to each family ten rounds, and explained that each represented the value of one chicken. ‘Now you can trade and bargain with the rounds instead of the unwieldy chickens,’ he explained.

It made sense. Everybody was impressed with the man with the shiny shoes and inspiring hat.

‘Oh, by the way,’ he added after every family had received their ten rounds, ‘in a year’s time, I will come back and sit under that same tree. I want you to each bring me back 11 rounds. That 11th round is a token of appreciation for the technological improvement I just made possible in your lives.’ ‘But where will the 11th round come from?’ asked the farmer with the six chickens. ‘You’ll see,’ said the man with a reassuring smile.

Assuming that the population and its annual production remain exactly the same during that next year, what do you think had to happen? Remember, that 11th round was never created. Therefore, bottom line, one of each 11 families will have to lose all its rounds, even if everybody managed their affairs well, in order to provide the 11th round to ten others.

So when a storm threatened the crop of one of the families, people became less generous with their time to help bring it in before disaster struck. While it was much more convenient to exchange the rounds instead of the chickens on market days, the new game also had the unintended side effect of actively discouraging the spontaneous cooperation that was traditional in the village. Instead, the new money game was generating a systemic undertow of competition among all the participants.

The second story is from Charles Eisenstein, and is more contemporary.  It gives a flavor of how the system has been especially abused in the last decade.4 .

Suppose you give me a million dollars with the instructions, "Invest this profitably, and I'll pay you well." I'm a sharp dresser -- why not? So I go out onto the street and hand out stacks of bills to random passers-by. Ten thousand dollars each. In return, each scribbles out an IOU for $20,000, payable in five years. I come back to you and say, "Look at these IOUs! I have generated a 20% annual return on your investment." You are very pleased, and pay me an enormous commission.

Now I've got a big stack of IOUs, so I use these "assets" as collateral to borrow even more money, which I lend out to even more people, or sell them to others like myself who do the same. I also buy insurance to cover me in case the borrowers default -- and I pay for it with those self-same IOUs! Round and round it goes, each new loan becoming somebody's asset on which to borrow yet more money. We all rake in huge commissions and bonuses, as the total face value of all the assets we've created from that initial million dollars is now fifty times that.

Then one day, the first batch of IOUs comes due. But guess what? The person who scribbled his name on the IOU can't pay me back right now. In fact, lots of the borrowers can't. I try to hush this embarrassing fact up as long as possible, but pretty soon you get suspicious. You want your million dollars back -- in cash. I try to sell the IOUs and their derivatives that I hold, but everyone else is suspicious too, and no one buys them. The insurance company tries to cover my losses, but it can only do so by selling the IOUs I gave it!

So finally, the government steps in and buys the IOUs, bails out the insurance company and everyone else holding the IOUs and the derivatives stacked on them. Their total value is way more than a million dollars now. I and my fellow entrepreneurs retire with our lucre. Everyone else pays for it.

This is the first level of what has happened in the financial industry over the past decade. It is a huge transfer of wealth to the financial elite, to be funded by US taxpayers, foreign corporations and governments, and ultimately the foreign workers who subsidize US debt indirectly via the lower purchasing power of their wages.

So what can we learn from these stories?

  • Again, money is not “stuff” in the usual sense.  It is simply a system to measure who has contributed how much, and who has consumed how much.  Paper money acts as symbols for these numbers where written records are not kept.

  • Money is created in the loan process, and is extinguished, as the loan is repaid. The ten rounds given to each outback family was a loan. 

  • When one of the functions of money in a given system is to be a store of value, speculation - making money with money - is a destabilizing result. 

With our banking system the process works as follows.  If I want a house or a car, for instance, and do not have the cash to buy it, I go to the bank for a loan.  The banker takes title to the house or car, and creates an account (money) in the amount of the cost of the house or car. I use this money to pay for the house or car.  As I pay down the principal of the loan, the money created by the loan is extinguished.  When the loan is paid off, I get title to the house or car. However there is an additional stipulation in the loan contract that requires me to pay the banker a percentage of the outstanding principal balance to him each month.  This payment is called interest. Defining money as interest bearing, as our system does, is both a practical and a moral issue.

Interest - the practical issue

The greatest problem in the present money system is the issue of interest. Interest makes our money not be a pure zero sum game.  Practically, when a loan is originated, money to pay the interest is not created.  Remember the eleventh round?  To pay that round  as time goes on, one or more of the following three things has to happen.

  • The economy has to grow continuously at an ever increasing rate
    (mathematicians call this logarithmic growth),

  • The money has to get worth less so that more money is traded for the same amount of goods and services, which we call inflation or an economic bubble, or

  • A portion of members of the productive sector have to go bankrupt, ceding their assets to the banking sector

This set of rules in the present money creation process systematically moves money and wealth from the productive sector to the banking/investment sector. No matter how hard we try, some traders in the productive sector always have to lose, even when everyone manages their affairs carefully.  The financial sector is the inevitable beneficiary.

Margrit Kennedy has analyzed this disparity in paying and receiving interest in the German economy.  She divides the economy into ten equal sized groups in order of income.  The highest tenth receives more than twice the interest that it pays. The second tenth pays about an equal amount as it receives.  All the other lower groups pay at a minimum twice what they receive in interest, with the lowest half paying at least 5 times as much as they receive.5

As noted above, one practical result of the interest mechanism is that the economy must grow faster and faster forever, which is simply not possible. This is why economists always talk about the necessity for continual economic growth. It is required by the interest mechanism.  It is not necessary with properly designed money systems.

Related to this growth is the fact that in order for the money supply to grow, ever increasing amounts of assets have to be monetized so that there are assets to back up the money created.  This requires ever increased privatization of resources and works against holding resources in common for the good of all.

Interest bearing money systems are not sustainable.  As time goes on, interest payments grow to be a larger and larger part of the economy.  As this process continues, the productive sector spends more and more of its income on paying interest, and less and less on themselves.  Somewhere along this line, the system breaks down.  This phenomenon was important in the breakdown of the Persian, the Greek, and the Roman Empires.6  We are rapidly approaching the same limit in our economic system.

In the early days of an economy, growth is natural.  However as an economy matures, and the limits of growth are felt, as is now the case with peak oil, and the knowledge that we have limited supplies of water and other resources, the system becomes unsustainable.  Growth cannot go on forever.

The Casino

Our money system works in many ways like a casino.  The central bankers are analogous to the house, and local bankers are analogous to contract table operators.  So while local bankers feel that they are providing a legitimate service and also feel that they are taking risks in creating money, they are part of a pyramid scheme that systematically moves money, and the assets pledged for its creation from the productive sector to the banking and finance industry.

In our political economy, the Federal Reserve Bank (our central bank) has been given unlimited power to mediate the creation of money. Commercial banks, credit unions and savings and loans have limited power to mediate its creation based on how much money they have invested in the Federal Reserve.  The Fed gets this power to mediate money creation through an exclusive charter granted by the Federal Government through the Federal Reserve Act of 1913.  For the record, while the Federal Reserve Bank is chartered by the Federal Government, it is a private institution.  While its board is appointed by the government, it consists of big players in the major banks, and economists who share their values.  The Federal Reserve Act is the basic set of rules that governs how our money works.

Under these rules, a local banker has to have a 5 to 10 % reserve in money invested in the central bank to make a loan.  The rest of it he can create out of nothing.  (The 5 to 10 % invested in the central bank, called high power money, is created by the central bank out of nothing.)  So all of the money created for my purchase was created out of nothing by the banking system.  (When I asked a banker about this once, he allowed, “Yea, we are pretty highly leveraged”.) 

Banks give their customers a smaller rate of interest on their deposits.  This practice buys everyone into the system, making the practice of charging and paying interest seem legitimate to everyone.  But it is all a house of cards operated by the banking industry for its ultimate benefit.

Interest - the moral issue

Then there is the moral issue with interest.  Our money system constitutes a form of structural violence.7  Part of interest paid goes to pay for the operation of the banking system.  The rest is what is called unearned income, received by the bank owners. To be blunt, unearned income from the money system is functionally identical to the unearned income received by welfare recipients. I know that bankers will rankle at being called welfare queens (or kings), however the major difference between bankers and government welfare recipients is that bankers have a plush office, receive a much greater payment, and perceive themselves to be respected members of the community, who feel that they are providing a real service, unlike their perception of government welfare recipients.

What we need to do at this point is consider what kind of welfare system we want to have, and invent it deliberately, instead of living with the inequitable system that we have.  If the payments that are currently transferred to the banking sector as interest, over and above conservative reasonable costs of recording and managing transactions, were reallocated to the people who produced the goods and services that were traded for that money, it would release an immense amount of energy and productivity in our economy.  It would begin to remove the greed motivation from the system structure and allow other motivations, such as curiosity and caring to blossom.

Who really creates money?

As can be seen from the savings and loan bailout, and the present bank bailouts, if the central bankers (the house in the casino metaphor) make loans that end up being not payable, it is the taxpayers who pick up the tab.  The central bankers always win.  The system methodically moves money, and the assets it represents, from the productive sector to the banking sector, and ultimately to the central bankers and financial manipulators. 

But let’s go back.  Remember the definition of money; an agreement within a community to use something as a means of exchange?  In all cases, it is the trust of traders and their resulting willingness to use the agreed upon money that gives it its value.  To repeat, it is the traders who use the money system that give it its value, not the bank or financial manipulator.  In our economy, the banks and financiers have made it seem that they are the necessary creators and managers of money. In fact, they only mediate and control the process.  It is the traders who have committed to producing equal value that guarantee the system.

The common misconception that banks create money must be debunked.  In our system, governments only borrow money into existence from the banks.  Banks can and do manage the money creation process. However, as noted above, the backing for this money is the trust on the part of traders that they will be able to use the money they receive for their work to pay their expenses and loans.  The bailouts of the banking industry by taxpayers bring this point home.  Taxpayers are backing the system with their bailout, covering the costs of the excesses of the financial industry.  It is the tax payers who go to the bank to borrow who are making the commitment to place goods or services on the market to repay the debt the government has incurred to bail out the banks.

So ultimately borrowers (traders) are the functional creators of money, rather than the bank, and ultimately the market is the guarantor of those funds, not the banking system.  Therefore the rightful holders of the collateral pledged for a loan are the members of the market, not the banking system.

Governments are in the same position as any other trader vis a vis the money industry.  The Federal Government does not create money.  If the Federal Government needs money, it has to get it through taxes, charges for services, or by borrowing it from the Federal Reserve, which creates it out of nothing.

In economic downturns the Federal Government becomes borrower of last resort to inject enough money into the system to keep it going.  During the 1990s, private debt rose fast enough that the government was able to operate on a balanced budget, but now that private debt has shrunk, it has to step in and borrow to attempt to resurrect the economy by maintaining growth of the money supply.

Our present situation is a reminder of the fallacy of balancing the Federal budget under the present money ground rules.  When the economy does not grow fast enough, as inevitably happens, the Federal Government has to run a deficit to try to maintain stability. Balancing the Federal budget over the long term with our present money system is simply not an option.  The only way to balance the Federal budget  over the long term is to change the way money is created.


The above analysis brings up questions that need thought.

  • Who should authorize the creation of money?

  • What changes in the money creation rules might make money consistent with democratic and sustainable values?  Specifically:
    • Should money creation be a service to the market or a profit center
    • Should money get worth more over time?  Less over time?

The issue at hand is succinctly described by Bernard Lietaer in the following piece at one of his web sites.8

Aligning Moral and Economic Incentives

There are three main ways to induce nonspontaneous behavior patterns: moral pressure, coercion, and economic incentives. For example, recycling glass bottles can be promoted by education, by regulations, or by incorporating a refundable deposit in the purchase price. A combination of all three incentives is obviously the most effective strategy.

When these incentives conflict, problems will arise. For instance, when there is an economic incentive to do something a regulation or law prohibits, we need costly and permanent enforcement systems. Even in the presence of such enforcement systems we expect smuggling and many more imaginative forms of cheating to occur. More evident are cases where moral pressure is supposed to overrule economic interests. Consider, for instance, the well-known saying, "Money is like manure; it does good only if spread around." This sentiment has been espoused in less florid language by most religions for a long time. However, this moral pressure is diametrically opposed to the concept of receiving interest on money, which provides a built-in incentive to hoard currency. Whenever there are such structural contradictions many people are unable to afford, or simply do not care enough, to follow the moral advice.

It is possible, however, to design a coherent and operational currency system so that this apparent structural contradiction disappears. In other words, by questioning some traditional implicit assumptions, we can realign the moral and economic incentives so that they are in harmony.

In his forthcoming book Of Human Wealth, Lietaer describes how the money system worked in ancient Egypt .  In ancient Egypt , there were two kinds of money.  For exchanges outside the country, precious metals were used.  It is the system used for internal exchange that is of interest to us.  In this little known system, grain was the commodity that backed the currency.

The government had grain storage bins.  If a farmer had excess grain he took it to the government bin, and was given a receipt, carved on a piece of soft fired clay, that gave the date and amount of grain received.  This clay receipt circulated as money.  Whoever came back to turn in the clay receipt for grain received less, depending on the storage time.  The time charge was used to pay for the costs of storage.  Unlike the Greek and Roman empires, the Egyptian empire lasted for more than 2000 years, and ended only after the Roman empire took over and introduced its currency.9  This concept of money loosing value over time, called demurrage, was reinvented by an Argentine economist, SilvioGazell, about a hundred years ago10.

The issue at hand is to design a kind of money that is stable over time, and is consistent in its values with the values of democracy and sustainability. With design criteria in hand, we can begin to consider experiments to transition in that direction.

Proposed characteristics of a sustainable monetary system

  • Locally based. Communities are like businesses, individuals, and governments, in that they have to have balanced budgets in order to remain healthy.  The disappearance of small towns in rural America is a good example of this issue.  More money goes out of most small communities than comes in.  This leads to their demise, and the sale of their assets to ever larger economic units.  Local currency allows a community to measure and control its imports and exports and maintain its balance of payments.

  • Embodies mutual credit, rather than managed money creation.  In a mutual credit system, money is created each time there is a financial transaction, with a debit entry in the buyer's account, and a credit in the seller's account.  There is no need for central control of the money supply, as the money supply is self regulated by trades being made.  Self regulation is much more immune to manipulation than central control, and automatically reflects the money supply needs of its users.

  • Democratically controlled, using a participatory budgeting process for large community improvements.11 If a community using such a system sees that it would benefit from a project that would require a relatively large sum of money, it can commit itself as a community to one or a group of its members, or its government, giving them a line of credit (permission to temporarily operate with a large negative balance) to complete a project. This is what banks do now in making loans.  Under a democratic system, the decision making simply moves to the community, rather than the bank, and there is no interest liability.

  • Non profit.  So that money can be exclusively a service, it is imperative that the organization that manages its creation is a not-for-profit.  When money creation becomes a for profit operation, it introduces the greed factor in its operation to maximize profit for its owners and operators.  This sets the tone for all transactions using it to do the same. 

  • Independent organization separate from government.  Having an
    independent entity manage the money creation process puts the
    government business on an equal playing field with other groups.  It
    requires government, like any other business or person, to go to the
    community for authorization for deficit spending.

  • Demurrage is certainly appropriate.  It may be advantageous to have fees on both negative and positive balances.  Demurrage removes the store of value criterion from the definition of money and prevents the drive to accumulate money.  It forces traders to want to get rid of money and therefore speeds up the velocity of money transactions. 

  • The idea is to create a system that promotes maintenance of balances close to zero, not always keeping a positive balance.  The principle of assuring that all budgets stay balanced (all account balances remain near zero, or return to zero) must be built into the structure of any monetary system, if it hopes to be stable over time. 

  • There must be some mechanism for payment of expenses of system operation.  Transaction fees have been shown to slow down the rate of trading.12  Where demurrage is a part of system design, it can cover system operation.  

  • Any surpluses from the money operation are available to the community for distribution, making every member of the community a philanthropist.

  • Money must have a value related to something.  Commodity based money systems have intrinsic value built into their commodity base, but have the limitation that the money outstanding is related to the supply of commodities, not the need for economic exchange.  The natural base for money is the hour of work, as willingness to work and trade that work for the work of others is the basic engine of commerce. The hour of work is a natural measure of economic value, and one that is universal the world over.  

  • Betting on the exchange value between different currencies for personal gain adds nothing to social value, is immoral and must be made illegal.  It is for good reason that Jesus threw out the money changers and that for 18 centuries the Catholic Church decried the payment of interest.  The Muslim faith still maintains this practice.  Having all currencies based on the same criterion, an hour of work,simplifies transactions between communities and gives equal value to all productive people for their work.  

  • All bank balances are public record. The bank balance of anyone buying is open knowledge to the seller, who can decide not to sell to someone who is not pulling their weight; buying more than they are selling (borrowing from the people with whom they trade by carrying a large negative balance). With electronic payment systems, stops can be put on payments if balances get too negative, just as occurs now with credit cards.

  • Regional, national and international clearing houses manage transactions between communities. 

  • Any new system needs to be prototyped on a small scale, and operated at a local level.  Growth can occur by multiplication and connection, rather than by “biggerization.”  This makes for a more robust and less fragile money system.  

  • No part of the system should be allowed to grow to a point where it is considered too big to fail. 

  • We need to acknowledge that the earth's resources are a legacy that we all have an interest in, rather than commodities that accrue to the individuals or groups that can gain the rights to control them.  This will require rethinking ownership patterns that have been accepted since the beginning of the industrial era. 

Some groups, including the American Monetary Institute, propose that the government put 'credit' money into circulation.  It needs to be understood that this kind of money doesn't come for free.  It is a tax on the market by the government which issues it.  An additional disadvantage of such a system is that it perpetuates the central control and management of the money supply, rather than having the money supply self regulate, as in a mutual credit system.


It is easy to say that the vision described here is all well and good, but it is pie in the sky – not attainable from where we are now.  This brings up the issue of transition.

Transitioning to an economic system based on curiosity and caring rather than greed will be filled with problems.  One of the most pernicious will be the resistance on the part of those who benefit the most from the status quo to loosing their preferred status.  Also knowledge of how things currently work may also make those who have been on the short end of the stick very angry.

Those who will loose power need to look at the alternatives for their children and grandchildren.  Looking at the alternatives can help convince them that change is necessary, and that to bequeath the present system to their children is to bequeath them chaos. Either we can move toward a fair money and economic system, or we can move toward economic and social breakdown and fascism. Everyone needs to recognize the basic humanity of everyone else, and try to move creatively from where we are to a place that is sustainable for us all.

As we remove the possibility of building a nest egg with interest on money, we have to develop new ways to invest, and to support those who need support, that build our communities and ecosystems, rather than destroying them.  With a money system that includes demurrage, such investments won't be fighting the short term profit motive that is the major motivator in the present negative sum money economy.

There will need to be a great deal of retraining for those whose industries are phased out.  A guaranteed income, utilizing part of the dividend currently going to interest, might be one mechanism to help smooth the transition.  Society has many issues that have not been dealt with well with the present economy based on greed.  Freeing the economy from the necessity for greed will open many new possibilities for curiosity and caring – toward fellow humans, toward our earth and its many forms of life, and toward the cosmos.

The obstacles to to transition are high, but the stakes are immense.  Do we want to follow the model of the Roman empire which lead to the dark ages, or do we want to transition to a society and economy that is sustainable and that respects everyone – each with their own cares and gifts to share? 

Further Resources

What is said here only scratches the surface of what needs to be done.  Many organizations and people are already out there working on the transition. A few that come to mind (in no particular order of importance):


As author of this piece, I must acknowledge that I benefit from this system, as well as paying into it.

Margaret Mansfield describes structural violence as follows:  “Structural violence occurs when physical and psychic harm results from systemic policies that don't directly rely on overt force”.13

Mansfield lists four characteristics of this form of violence:

1.    Structural violence is hard to recognize.  It is embedded in institutions that are considered normal.

2.    Structural violence is short sighted.  It damages everyone, slave holder as well as slave.

3.    Structural violence is self reinforcing.  It creates vicious cycles such as the cycle of ever increasing disparity of poverty of the many and affluence of the few.

4.    Structural violence promotes scapegoating.  Labeling, from “welfare queens” to “corporate fat cats” deflects attention away from policy and its administration. 

(The author recognizes that he has engaged in the fourth activity in this paper.  It was felt that to name the problem was of greater importance than the possibility of labeling taking away from the possibility for continued discussion.)


1 Bernard Lietaer, The Future of Money, Century Pub. London, 2001, p 41

2      Modified from Bernard Lietaer, Community Currencies: A New Tool for the 21st Century, section 2, at

3 The Future of Money, Century Pub. London, 2001, p 50-51

4 From Money and the Crisis of Civilization by Charles Eisenstein at

5 Margrit Kennedy Why Do We Need Monetary Innovation?  at

6“When ancient Egypt fell, only 4 percent of the population held all the wealth.  When the Babylonian civilization collapsed, only 3 percent of the people owned all the wealth.    When ancient Persia was destroyed, 2 percent of the people owned all the wealth. When ancient Greece sank into ruin, only 0.5 percent of the people held all the wealth. When the Roman Empire collapsed into ruin, only about two thousand people owned all the wealth in the known civilized world, and this debacle ushered in the period of history known as the Dark Ages.” Jaikaran, Jacques M.D., Debt Virus, Glenbridge Publishing, Ltd., Lakewood CO., ISBN # 0-944435-13-0, page 24

7 See Appendix A


9 Lietaer, Bernard, Of Human Wealth, Citerra Press, Boulder CO, in press. And


11 See

12 Irving Fisher, Stamp Scrip, Adelphi, New York,1933

13 Mansfield, Margaret, Structural Violence and Friends Testimonies: Simplicity is not Enough, in Seeds of Violence, Seeds of Hope. Friends Testimonies and Economics, 14 New Jersey Ave, Hainsport NJ.  See Appendix A for more information on structural violence.

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Article Summaries

The Coyoté Oak: Burgeoning Wisdom

The Coyoté Oak: Burgeoning Wisdom (Preview Chapters)
by Carlisle Bergquist

A modern-day parable for planet in transformation.

"The Coyoté Oak:  Burgeoning Wisdom by Carlisle Bergquist lives up to its name.  Like the trickster Coyoté, this fanciful read informs with unpredictable authority.  The visionary novel weaves deep ecology, shamanism, quantum physics, Native American spirituality, Taoism, mysticism, and even Christianity into an engaging healing adventure.  No small accomplishment as its wisdom rings loud and exquisitely clear.  The author’s vivid descriptions engulf the senses; you can almost taste the pancakes, smell the moss, see the sunsets and you will certainly fall in love with the characters.  Expect to be drawn in deep, transformed and left howling for more." Share Guide - San Francisco, CA

Available wherever books are sold

ISBN:  0-9791750-6-2
Published by Reality Press

Transcendental Creative Systems:

An Exploration Using General Living Systems Theory

Creativity is the merger of matter/energy with new information.  The process of bringing something new into existence, is an inherent characteristic of life.  To live is to create whether we do so unconsciously, or with full awareness.  This essay is an academic approach to the creative process using James Miller's General Living Systems Theory to model the course from non-being to created work.

A Comparative View of Creativity Theories:
Psychoanalytic, Behaviorist, & Humanistic

Three streams of thought in contemporary psychology view our humanness is distinctly different ways.  This is nowhere more evident than in their efforts to explain creativity.  This essay explores and compares these divergent views and provides a foundation from which to develop a new transpersonal theory of creativity.

Dancing With The Whole:
A Theory of Creative Entrainment

The holistic theory models entrainment as a communicative occurrence. Examples are given from several disciplines and four stages of entrainment are delimited. The essay compares theoretical quantum physicist David Bohm's notions of order with the realms of spirit, mind, and body. It proposes stages of entrainment operant throughout these realms and suggests that they perform cumulatively in the creative or unfolding process. The systems perspective develops the thesis that humankind is an iteration of a larger system and that entrainment is a central factor in the transduction of information between individuals and across system levels.

Doorways In Consciousness:
An Exploration of Resonant Being

Many cultures around the globe embrace sound in their exoteric and esoteric traditions. This essay reviews the role sound plays in the religions, creation myths, and sacred technologies of various peoples. This review connects creativity with healing which is considered an act of regeneration thus creating health in the body. Several varieties of healing through sound are discussed including music, drumming, toning, chant, instruments, Kabballah, and prayer. The essay proposes that techniques of sound healing and therapy currently rely on the intuitive ability of individual practitioners. Acknowledging the need for effective healing modalities, it calls for research that can qualify the elemental effects of existing sounds, tones and prayers. Such categorization may help construct an applied holistic healing technology.

Building A Better Thought Trap:
Nutrition for Colossal Creativity & Peak Performance

Colossal creativity is a state of balance amongst the mind, the body, and the spirit that actuates human potential. This article concentrates on the vitamin and nutritional components of our system so that they resonate more clearly. The focus is on the brain which rests at the focal point of our physical, mental, and spiritual worlds. It traps and interprets inspiration that comes from deep within, transforming it from one world to another. Colossal creativity unfolds when we nourish every part of our being. Digest new thoughts and ideas to nourish your mind. Develop a daily practice -- whatever your faith -- that invites active participation from your Spiritual-Self.

Accessing Your Inner Creator

An essay for general audiences that explores the creative process comparing it with the duality described in many philosophical and spiritual traditions. Techniques are given to apply these strategies to ones individual work.

Creativity, Healing, & Shamanism

An academic, yet deeply personal essay about exceptional encounters in Brazil with alternative healing and spiritual tradition. It details a dynamical systems (chaos theory) model of creativity: at "The Valley of The Dawn" a spiritual healing community; in Amyr, a physical medium; and in my experience using Ayahuasca with "The Santo Daime Doctrine" in Rio de Janeiro.

Guest Articles

How Money is Created

by Paul Krumm

Toward an Economy Based on Curiosity and Caring Instead of Greed

by Paul Krumm


  • While the network of money transactions around the world is very complex, the way money works is really rather simple, and is understandable by the ordinary person.

  • The study of the operation of money is pivotal to any discussion of cultural values and social justice, as money is the basic language of economic relationships, and the values built into this language impact all social relationships.

In this paper we will describe how the present money game is structured.  We will show that the idea that money is value neutral is not correct, and go on to describe how money functions to promote greed.

Some preliminary suggestions will be given, based on theory and what has worked in the past, to change the values built into our money to ones that are more congruent with a curiosity and caring driven economy.

We will also show how the present money game is not sustainable, note that the same changes that lead to a curiosity and caring based system are the same changes that make money and our economy sustainable.

Transforming Reality Through The Arts

by Coni Ciongoli-Koepfinger

Could this be the key to CREATIVE EVOLUTION?  Is the creation of a society that questions the reality of its fiction and the fiction of its reality be but a page turn away. Conceivably it is no longer a question of controlling what is real; instead, is it a question of controlling the market analysis that controls what the individual assumes to be real? Perhaps then, we will able to give birth to the new science that is no longer bipolar in its relations of the art and the social – a new science that is born out of a culture that was modified to be the perfect blend of both fact and fiction.

Staying Centered in Peace
by Lisa Hepner

An essay written in the wake of events on September 11, 2001.  This piece addresses the struggles we experience to see beyond the pain.  The author draws together the thoughts of many personal growth writers into an inspiring tonic for our wounded souls.