Yes, this is what I’m spending Australia Day weekend thinking about.
In recent articles we’ve been thinking about how ideas and values can trickle up from community groups into business and the broader culture. Once there was a time when you couldn’t imagine recycling bins. Now it’s hard to picture a neighbourhood without them.
The other day I was at the ATM and the little advertising splash screen, because we can’t avoid advertising, asked me if I had any crazy ideas I’d like to share with the bank. Maybe your crazy business ideas aren’t so crazy. Let us know how we can make banking better.
I’m glad you asked!
Proponents of the new paradigm talk a lot about things like Resource Based Economy and a Basic Living Income. The RBE essentially focuses on intelligent management of resources and distribution. Rather than seeking profit uber alles and writing social and environmental impacts off as externalities, the RBE takes well being into account. It is often associated with Zeitgeist and the Venus project but not exclusive to those movement. The Basic Living Income is an alternative to welfare, particularly punitive welfare systems that are used as scape goats by lazy politicians. It provides a modest but secure standard of living that will see everyone through as we move from global kleptocracy to a fairer system based on the reality of limited resources on the planet. That means shared resources and abundance, not artificial scarcity and planned obsolescence.
If you’re having trouble with the motivation behind those concepts there’s plenty of reading to do about them. A few of the older articles here address the influences behind our current dilemma which has little to do with intrinsic human values and more to do with a consumer system that exacerbates all our worst traits. This video is a helpful summary.
There’s some good banking ideas coming out of community movements already. The Credit Co-op that I’m with puts all the profit goes back to the member shareholders in low fees and dividends. Bendigo Bank have become very involved in community banking in Australia. Those are good things.
I’d like to suggest a couple more. Firstly, an overhaul of the fees and charges system so that poor people are not hit for not having cash coming out their noses.
Secondly a review of mortgages, in particular foreclosures. A primary dwelling should have more options for assistance and lower charges. Holiday houses and other secondary stuff are a different matter, but throwing people out of homes and off family farms is sorry business. We can do better.
With this in mind, a fund can be started, along the lines of the debt buy back held so successfully by the Occupy movement. Donations were collected over a period of months. The money was used to buy up mortgages on the stock market. The debts were then written off. So far $14 million in debts have been abolished.
In Australia there’s potential for using the debt collection system to do this. Debt can be bought relatively cheaply. The value is in the fees and interest collected, not the initial outstanding amount. If banks want to keep the nation afloat, this would be a very good area to support. Keeping people in their houses and small businesses adds great stability to the economy and community. It is a valuable buffer to international fluctuations.
Public banking. As with utilities and housing, this is an area where the imposition of payment of dividends is counter productive. In order to assist the regulation and reformation of the fiat system and unsustainable levels of global debt, public banking keeps things manageable and helps resist instability during transition. Money was designed to facilitate trade and exchange. To keep the economy afloat, you want money moving in the community, not syphoned off into a Grand Caymans account where it does nothing but drive more debt.
Personally I don’t think there’s any need for disruption to most people’s lives. I mean sure, those who’ve bought penthouse apartments and porches by gambling on the stock market and futures will face some adjustment. But your average Jane and Joe in the suburbs don’t need to see much of it. The community support being built up at this stage by all the little projects and movements going on will buffer that considerably. It’s our best bet to do it painlessly. I say that because of both the trade in resources and the psychology involved. If you’re in it with a bunch of friends and you can all see where you’re going, there’s much less fear and much more excitement.
Sifting out the fear is an important aspect of that. It’s something I’ll be writing more about in coming weeks. If you’ve already turned off the 6 o’clock news and installed the Murdoch blocking browser add ons, you’ll know what I’m talking about.
All the systems and technology are in place to successfully navigate this transition peacefully. The only thing holding us back is the fear being driven by those with vested interests in the old paradigm. Well, I’m so sorry your oil fields won’t be worth billions, but if your fourth yacht goes to keep families on their farms, it’s a sacrifice I’m willing to make.