Written by By Davian Views (Traditional Industrial Ecologist)
[Part 5 was published here yesterday where you’ll also find links to the earlier parts]
Examples of Barter Currency Collateral
(1440) As the aim is to make the Bread and Butter Economy of a local area more self-sufficient and sustainable, the JUBILEE collateral which underpins the local economy is underwritten by local activity, but also trades with other LEAFs as well as nationally and internationally. No two LEAFs are the same because of terrain, climate, location, population distribution and national governance. There will be similarities in the composition of JUBILEE collateral, which, for want of a better word we will call Flavours.
It is worth considering at this point a bit of history. When North America was colonised by the European immigrants and then broke away from their European masters it was a collection of States that were to most intents and purposes independent. These States multiplied in a Westerly direction and took control of their territories with the aid of weapons superior to those of the indigenous populations who were considered savages. This behaviour is not unique to North America and spread to all continents from 1500 through to 1900, this military prowess was then consolidated through the last century, with the aid of financial prowess and brings us up to today.
The United States of America is a good case study to observe the concentration of power over time from the many to the few. The fifty states over the last century gradually lost power to the central federal authorities. At the same time the growth and influence of corporate activity also became centralised draining wealth from local economies. The ruling states are the centres of power California for media, New York for finance and Washington for politics, creating what we in Europe would call a Troika. To follow this model leads to the creation of dependency and servitude.
None of this is new, and seems to lock human endeavour into a never ending cycle that prevents evolution, progress and harmony in the human condition. Even the Military Industrial Complex Ecetera, fails to evolve, using more and more resources just to stay where it is.
Barter collateral represents resources in our JUBILEE currency, that is designed to enable a Bread and Butter economy to function. So let us look at examples after this seemingly obscure preamble.
We humans are not the only Lifeforms on the planet, we share the Earth with millions of other lifeforms from bacteria to Blue Whales. The interactions between all lifeforms create the habitat and the natural infrastructure that makes life possible on Earth. This natural infrastructure is not counted in our economy, even though the components of natural infrastructure from Fish to Forest are regularly plundered. The parallel situation in our economy is summed up by considering the recent spate of metal theft, where metal of value was stolen from Church roofs Railways and Roads, causing them to malfunction.
This highlights the hypocrisy in our approach to natural resources when we act as thieves, but are protected and encouraged by our laws to behave as criminals.
If we are to redress this imbalance, then a standing tree, alive and functioning in many environment enhancing ways needs to be included in our economic system as a valuable wealth creating asset that maintains our habitat rather than just a piece of wood from which to make a newspaper or some garden furniture.
The study of Star Planet Energy Flows (SPEF) which although somewhat fragmented between different disciplines, would give us a guide to the balance of energy use by the natural world and our man made portion.
If we want our economy to be in harmony with the natural economy, there are a few principles that we need to include.
Not so long ago all of the Earth was the commons, territory was marked by the current “Top Dog” by urinating or defecating at the boundaries, which would send a message to any other dog who would sniff the calling card and deduce whether or not it was worth proceeding or making a detour. This decision could avoid or cause a fight, and as the animal kingdom does not enjoy the benefit of a handy Accident and Emergency Department, a relatively minor injury could result in death. This reality gave nature a distaste for violence, that is not represented in today’s media and so animals would growl and bellow at each other rather than engage in physical combat, as the danger was too much.
Doubtless animals could tell if the territory was marked by a sick or aging “Top Dog”, this information would be factored in to their decision making.
This demarcation of territory was by its nature temporary, requiring territory to be restated before the Dung Beetles had eaten the territorial claim!
So natures system was that ownership of a territory was temporary, it would be wrong to say that it was ownership in the modern understanding of the concept of ownership. Stewardship is a more apt description, permitting the “Top Dog” to remain in power for only as long as the talents of top dog remained with that individual.
In groups of social animals such as elephants and wolves, “family” skills we retained within the group memory which allowed for a “Tribal” dominance to continue through the generations. This though tends to degenerate the strict meritocracy of the “Top Dog” paradigm.
The temporary nature of ownership is illustrated by the observation that plants are ultimately carnivorous, in that they feed on the remains of the animals, which via excrement or mortality nourishes the soil. So by looking at the complete cycle of life and death, life feeds on itself and the available minerals and energy to build over time a more stable and diverse habitat. If a habitat is losing diversity, then this is a sign of degeneration and ultimately extinction if the balance of nature is not restored to growth.
It is therefore important to observe what kind of growth is happening. Diverse and evolving growth, or homogeneous and devolving growth. Taking note of the balance between the two types of growth. Conveniently, nature provides us with clear examples to observe the difference.
Healthy growth in our bodies is when the new cells made from our food are of many different types and in the right amounts to enable us to grow, repair and develop as needed, so that we are healthy. Unhealthy growth is like a tumour, it feeds on its host, growing and weakening the host over time until death puts a stop to the tumour and the host. It is not to be confused with metamorphosis, where a caterpillar changes into a butterfly.
This growth process in the economy is the balance between wealth creation and wealth destruction. Unfortunately there is no measurement of this process in the economy, as we are focused entirely on the “Gross Domestic Product” ( GDP ( No matter how gross what we produce happens to be!!! )). The “Trade Balance” is only mentioned when we want to adjust the value of our currency, relative to other currencies. GDP is just a running total of wealth creation and wealth destruction, as long as the number gets bigger over time, all seems well and the economy is growing. If you did the GDP calculation on your own finances, then you would add income and expenditure together and call it “Personal Gross Domestic Product” ( PGDP ). Over time you would most likely be broke, and just like governments, you would find it easier to increase your PGDP by spending rather than earning. That is until you cannot borrow more because your “Personal Trade Balance” ( PTB ) is bad, but as you are not allowed to print your own money, you are broke!!
When we decide how best to look after the Commons for ourselves and future generations, being the “Top Dog” with all our industrial and military might, we need to consider the power structure that would look after the commons best. This is what is called enlightened self-interest. By looking after the commons, we are looking after ourselves, and we do need to give it priority over our own short term objectives, by short term I mean at least a century, which is the minimum of ten decades. Central planners might plan a new town and look at it from a fifty year perspective, yet a new forest takes at least a hundred years to begin to mature.
This might sound draconian, but only if it is implemented in a central planning kind of way. If you allow a community to develop in an organic fashion, it will evolve according to need and benefit, in harmony with the local environment, without conflict with neighbouring communities.
[To be continued]