Newsletter No. 44 - January 2014
Links to other Newsletters can be found here.
2. South Africa After Nelson Mandela
3. How Money Is Now Created: Centenary of the US Federal Reserve Bank
4. US President John F. Kennedy - his Hopes of Fifty Years ago, when he was Assassinated in Dallas, Texas on 22 November 1963
5. First World War, Centenary 4th August 1913
6. Scottish Independence Referendum, 18 September 2014, following the Seventh Centenary of the Battle of Bannockburn
7. Other Topics
8. An Important Future Event
The arrival of New Year 2014 brings a number of centenaries and a half-centenary to reflect on.
Here are some examples. In his moving memorial tribute on 10th December at Soweto, South Africa, US President Barack Obama referred to Nelson Mandela as "the last great liberator of the 20th century "; 23 December 2013 was the centenary of the US Federal Reserve Bank System; on 22 November 1963 fifty years ago President John F. Kennedy was assassinated; 4 August 2014 will be the centenary of the outbreak of the first World War; and 23-24 June 2014 will be seventh centenary of the Scottish defeat of the English at the Battle of Bannockburn, reflected in the Scottish referendum for independence from the UK to be held on 18 September this year.
These are some of the topics in this newsletter. They prompt us to think about the future as well as the past.
2. SOUTH AFRICA AFTER NELSON MANDELA
Sadly, the nation Nelson Mandela leaves behind him remains one of the least equal nations in the world - See www.economist.com/blogs/graphicdetail/2013/12/daily-chart-6.
I am not very surprised at this. When Alison and I visited South Africa in February/March 1996 we were doubtful, though optimistic, about South Africa's socio-economic future. See "Impressions of the New South Africa", Turning Point 2000 at www.jamesrobertson.com/impressionsofthenewsouthafrica.pdf.
As this newsletter's Introduction mentioned, US President Barack Obama referred in his moving memorial tribute on 10th December to Nelson Mandela as "the last great liberator of the 20th century".
Gandhi and Martin Luther King were the previous two great liberators of that century. Unlike Mandela both had been assassinated.
Who will be the great liberators of the 21st century? They will need to liberate us from domination by a worldwide tangle of dependency-creating groupthink. What sort of people will our liberators be and where will they come from?
Or will it be as much about us being able to liberate ourselves, co-operating peacefully and independently with one another?
Meanwhile, how will our present leaders behave? Here is an example: www.celebuzz.com/2013-12-10/obama-take-a-selfie-at-nelson-mandelas-memorial/
At the same time, a phony interpreter to the deaf was gesticulating nonsense accompanying all the speakers - www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/dec/16/fake-mandela-memorial-interpreter-schizophrenia-signing.
You can't help wondering how much the world's taxpayers pay for the thousands of people at hundreds of international jamborees on our behalf. Who can tell us? and who can tell us what it's all worth?
Not much, the critics would say. See - www.politicalcleanup.wordpress.com/2013/12/20/nelson-mandela-clinton-obama-bush-blair-cameron-tributes-of-shameful-hypocrisy.
3. HOW MONEY IS N0W CREATED: Centenary of the US Federal Reserve Bank
December 23, 2013, was the one hundredth anniversary of the signing of the Federal Reserve Act. Not everyone has celebrated it.
For example, a paper from the American Monetary Institute regards it as "the culmination of centuries of political, financial, intellectual, and moral corruption" - see www.monetary.org/wp-content/uploads/2013/12/Viable-Solution-to-Economic-Crisis.pdf.
Ellen Brown agrees that "100 years is enough; it's time to make the Fed a Public Utility" - see www.huffingtonpost.com/ellen-brown/100-years-federal-reserve_b_4490472.html.
There are many arguments for reforming how the public money supply is created - known as "monetary reform".
One benefit, as I explained in Future Money (pp 112-113), is that changing the way money is created and circulated in the UK could result, first in an annual saving to all citizens of about £75bn, and second in a one-off benefit to the public purse totalling £1.5bn over a three-year transition period. These results would be achieved by:
(1) eliminating the hidden tax that we all pay to commercial banks as interest on the bank account money in circulation; and
(2) profiting from the one-off increase in public revenue by converting the money supply now created by commercial banks as debt into money created free of debt by the Bank of England.
In the short term this would relieve the unjust "austerity" now being inflicted on the poorer sections of society. In the longer term it would create a fairer and more efficient economy for everyone in a 21st-century society.
The benefits of monetary reform are now widely recognised, e.g. by Positive Money in recent communications, including the following:
The following two discussions are among those well worth studying:
www.truth-out.org/opinion/item/20527-amend-the-fed-we-need-a-central-bank-that-serves-main-street, including comments.
4. US PRESIDENT JOHN F. KENNEDY - his hopes of fifty years ago, when he was assassinated in Dallas, Texas on 22 November 1963
The following are two important reports by President Kennedy's nephew. I am grateful to Barbara Panvel for them. They suggest why it is risky for political leaders to pursue peace policies that threaten the career prospects of their experts in warfare:
These reports inevitably leave one with a sense of regret that the Cold War wasn't ended quarter of a century earlier than it might have been. They also leave us with conspiracy questions about how Kennedy's assassination was arranged and who by. And they leave us with no guarantee that the world won't be similarly cheated again in favour of choosing war against peace.
I don't want to distract attention from the particular importance of the field of peace and war. But it is worth noting that there are similar relationships in other fields too, such as:
- health, where staying healthy reduces the need for expensive sickness cures by medical professionals of all kinds; or
- work, where "ownwork" will remove the need to depend on high paid employers to decide what employment you will do.
Becoming more self-reliant in many such fields of life may turn out to be essential to the survival of our species.
An extreme example of the reverse of self-reliance would be a "lucrative symbiosis" combining profit from the production of agrochemical herbicides growing food for people, with profit from responding to people's diseases from the herbicides - see www.politicalcleanup.wordpress.com/2013/12/16/us-uk-rising-use-of-gm-herbicides-prostate-cancer-parkinsons-dementia-autism-etc.
That would be an example of "Civilization's Vicious Circle": we "must keep solving the problems of complexity, for that is the sine qua non of civilized existence; but every solution creates new, ever more difficult problems, which then require new, ever more demanding solutions".
5. FIRST WORLD WAR, CENTENARY 4TH AUGUST 1913
The official response in the UK is that from 2014 to 2018, nations, communities and individuals of all ages across the world, will come together to mark, commemorate and remember the lives of those who lived, fought and died in the First World War. See www.1914.org/about.
Much wider activity is suggested at www.theguardian.com/world/2013/jun/09/authors-first-world-war-books.
Two among many interesting recent commentaries are as follows.
"The Great War was a Just War" - www.historytoday.com/gary-sheffield/great-war-was-just-war argues that, although no one wants to see five years of German-bashing, the UK government would be wrong to take a non-judgemental view about the ethics of the Great War.
"Look back with angst" - www.economist.com/news/leaders/21591853-century-there-are-uncomfortable-parallels-era-led-outbreak argues that the parallels between the present time and the run-up to the First World War are troubling:
"The United States is Britain, the superpower on the wane, unable to guarantee global security. Its main trading partner, China, plays the part of Germany, a new economic power bristling with nationalist indignation and building up its armed forces rapidly. Modern Japan is France, an ally of the retreating hegemon and a declining regional power. The parallels are not exact-China lacks the Kaiser's territorial ambitions and America's defence budget is far more impressive than imperial Britain's-but they are close enough for the world to be on its guard."
6. SCOTTISH INDEPENDENCE REFERENDUM, 18 SEPTEMBER 2014.
As a child brought up in Scotland I was taught to enjoy the story of the glorious Scottish defeat of the English at Bannockburn in 1314.
I was taken to support Scottish rugby teams against the English at Murrayfield. I still support them after a long adult life in England. I have more cousins who live in Scotland than in England. It feels strange to think that we may become foreigners within the year.
It is hard to believe it can happen. Perhaps it won't matter too much if it does. We will surely find ways to keep alive the concept of UK Britain.
7. OTHER TOPICS
This section contains shorter notes on important topics.
(1) The Madness of Nuclear Power
My last newsletter discussed this - see www.jamesrobertson.com/newsletter.htm#nuclearpower.
The view of nuclear power as madness is strengthened by further reports from Japan - see www.rt.com/news/fukushima-destroy-japan-us-290.
(2) The Future of UK Politics
(a) Why politics fails - George Monbiot - www.monbiot.com/2013/11/11/why-politics-fails.
"When a state-corporate nexus of power has bypassed democracy and made a mockery of the voting process, when an unreformed political funding system ensures that parties can be bought and sold, when politicians of the three main parties stand and watch as public services are divvied up by a grubby cabal of privateers, what is left of this system that inspires us to participate"?
(b) Why old style politics are collapsing - Neal Lawson - www.theguardian.com/commentisfree/2013/nov/29/old-style-politics-collapse-like-berlin-wall-westminster.
"The art of political leadership in the 21st century is to help grow the capacity of people to collectively make change happen, not impose change on them."
(3) References to Local Developments
(4) References to Energy
A community wind turbine in Fetterangus
(5) A Reference to "Ownwork"? - see Item 4 above.
www.mattblacksystems.com/system/site/uploads/ content/docs//Designing the Void - A Manifesto for Self-Managed Work.pdf
(6) Important Books
The Mason Gaffney Reader - www.amazon.com/The-Mason-Gaffney-Reader-Unsolvable/dp/0974184462.
Colin Hines on Progressive Protectionism - www.progressiveprotectionism.com/wordpress.
8. AN IMPORTANT FUTURE EVENT (related to Item 3 above).
Saturday 1st March 2014, POSITIVE MONEY CONFERENCE. See www.positivemoney.org/conference.
6 January 2014