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Newsletter No. 57 - May 2017

Links to other Newsletters can be found here.



1. Three Generations Left? Human Activity and the Destruction of the Planet

2. Some Points about Money

3. Books

4. A Programme about Social Justice and Public Policy

5. An Obituary



This question is also the title of a new book. See 3(a) below.

1(a) 'The soaring ocean temperature' from Oliver Milman in The Guardian

The soaring temperature of the oceans is the "greatest hidden challenge of our generation" that is altering the make-up of marine species, shrinking fishing areas and starting to spread disease to humans, according to the most comprehensive analysis yet of ocean warming. The oceans have already sucked up an enormous amount of heat due to escalating greenhouse gas emissions, affecting marine species from microbes to whales.

See - is-greatest-hidden-challenge-of-our-generation.

1(b) Why I had to tell my students that I fear for them

Rupert Read, a philosophy professor at the University of East Anglia, UK, tells his first-year students: "The reason I don't envy you is because, as I look around the room, with very few exceptions, most of you are significantly younger than me. And I think there is a very real possibility that the later part of the lives of most of you in this room is going to be grim or non-existent. I'm sorry to have to say it. .... I actually think that you in this room here today should be very angry against the generation that's older than you and the generation above that. Because there's been what I would call a 'festival' of recklessness or a 'carnival' of short-termism that has characterised the last generations. It leaves you in a very parlous position; and it's all too easy I'm afraid for such kinds of festivals to turn into funerals".


1(c) The Dark Legacy of China's Drive for Global Resources

William Laurance has worked as an ecologist in the Amazon, Africa, and the Asia-Pacific region on an array of environmental issues for the past 35 years.

He says, "I've never seen a nation have such an overwhelming impact on the earth as China does now. Across the globe, on nearly every continent, China is involved in a dizzying variety of resource extraction, energy, agricultural, and infrastructure projects - roads, railroads, hydropower dams, mines - that are wreaking unprecedented damage to ecosystems and biodiversity. This onslaught will likely be made easier by the Trump administration's anti-environmental tack and growing disengagement internationally".


1(d) Leadership for the 21st Century

Bruce Nixon blogs: "Today's challenges are very different [from the past]: climate chaos and destruction of the ecosystem, growing economic injustice, mass migration resulting from climate change, poverty, and civil war, and the need to resolve conflict without violence. We have learned from the disastrous consequences of military intervention in Iraq. Cyber interventions are a new threat. And we are at the beginning of the fourth industrial revolution. Also we live in a far more diverse society.

Humanity uses the equivalent of 1.6 Earths in one year to provide the resources we use and absorb our waste. We use more ecological resources and services than nature can regenerate, through overfishing, overharvesting forests, and emitting more carbon dioxide into the atmosphere than forests can sequester (Global Footprint Network).

Austerity continues to do immense harm. It is widely recognised that free market capitalism and neoliberal policies, the dominant ideology of the past thirty years, have failed to deliver prosperity and wellbeing for all. Instead it is system that extracts wealth from those who create it and delivers it to the 1 percent and from poor to rich nations. .... Arguably the greatest threat to our survival is our capacity to commit mass suicide by destroying our habitat on Spaceship Earth or through nuclear war".

See for a range of valuable insights on the human future.

1(e) General Election

In Britain we are having a general election on 8 June. It involves a lot of wasted political activity that won't meet the challenges of the future.



2(a) To Billionaire Doomsday Preppers Your Wealth Won't Save You

"With Donald Trump's election and the rising perils of war, climate upheaval, accelerating inequality, and civil unrest, some of the richest people in the United States are making escape plans....

But his idea of privatized survival is extremely limited. In the face of growing inequalities and ecological crisis, the wealthy will not be able to build a wall high enough or a silo deep enough.

Why? Two simple, interconnected reasons, one ecological and the other economic:

1. There is no Planet B.

2. Your wealth won't save you...".


2(b) Making Money from Making Money

A new report from the New Economics Foundation shows that "in the UK, commercial bank seigniorage profits amount to a hidden annual subsidy of £23 billion, representing 73% of banks' profits after provisions and taxes".

It concludes that "seigniorage profits could be seen as another form of public subsidy for the banking sector, supporting excessive pay and non-value-creating lending that contributes to rising house price and financial-asset prices".


2(c) How many of the richest people benefit from a dysfunctional property market

An article in The Guardian by the New Economics Foundation's Alice Martin explains that the "British property market is making a few people very, very rich while leaving millions at the mercy of a dysfunctional market, with little or no influence over where they get to live."#

She writes: "it is a strange kind of economy where land and property routinely earn more than people do. But that is what we have - and the amount of wealth tied up in these areas has increased dramatically over the past few decades."


2(d) The IMF should get out of Greece

"It has long been evident the Greek government, over the years, has been so overburdened with debt that much of it would eventually need to be forgiven. Now, even the mainstream media is touting that as the necessary solution to Greece's predicament....So, here we have another case of private bank creditors being bailed-out. Yes, the Greek debt must be forgiven to allow the Greek economy to recover, but the burden now falls upon European and American citizens instead of on the banks' owners, where it properly belongs."



3(a) Three Generations Left? Human Activity and the Destruction of the Planet

This excellent book by Dr Christine Parkinson outlines how so-called progress has combined with a host of other factors, including free trade, a market economy, population increase and the development of a super-rich minority owning most of the wealth of the planet, to bring about global warming and climate change which could lead to a loss of many species and mass human extinction before the end of this century.


3(b) Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing

This major new book is by Josh Ryan-Collins and his colleagues for the New Economics Foundation, in partnership with publishers Zed Books: Rethinking the Economics of Land and Housing. The subject is topical. The UK is facing a housing affordability crisis with enormous consequences for social justice and economic and financial sustainability.


A further briefing on the subject is at It starts by saying "The government's Housing White Paper is set to join the decades of policy interventions that have failed to fix the housing crisis because they do not seek to address the broken land market and its role in an increasingly unequal economy".

3(c) Basic Income: A Radical Proposal for a Free Society and a Sane Economy

"In this book, van Parijs and Vanderborght present a thorough history of basic income as well as a philosophical and practical defense. In the first chapter, they elaborate upon the concept of a basic income ("a regular income paid in cash to every individual member of a society, irrespective of income from other sources and with no strings attached"), explaining the significance of each of the key characteristics: it is paid in cash (rather than in kind), paid to individuals (rather than to households), universal, and obligation-free. In the second chapter they proceed to contrast basic income with alternative (but often closely related) proposals - such as the negative income tax (which is sometimes conflated with basic income), basic endowment, Earned Income Tax Credit, job guarantee, and working-time reduction".


3(d) Progressive Protectionism

"Progressive Protectionism by Colin Hines details why ever more open borders are increasing inequality, reducing economic activity and threatening the environment. He explains how countries could rebuild and diversify their economies by limiting what finance, goods, services and people they allow to cross their borders. They would move toward protection of nature, workers, localities and national sovereignty, as the key locale where democracy might resist rootless international capital."




A part-time MA in Social Justice and Public Policy will start in Sept 2017 in Dublin. "The programme is specifically designed for people seeking to promote a fairer society, including those from business, community, voluntary, social inclusion, environmental organisations, trade unions, civil service, farming and religious sectors."




Very sad news indeed.

"To: All Friends, Advisors, and Supporters of the American Monetary Institute (AMI).

From: AMI Trustees Lucienne Dewulf, Jesse De Groodt, and Robert Poteat.  

It is with profound sadness that we reach out to you. As Trustees, we are writing to let you know that AMI Founder and Director, Stephen Zarlenga, passed away on Tuesday, the 25th of April after a courageous fight with cancer.

Stephen was a true Renaissance man of deep integrity.  He was dearly beloved by all who knew him well. His extraordinary mind, breadth of knowledge, and special care for humanity made him a visionary in the field of monetary reform.

His life has been devoted to educating Americans about the need for monetary reform and to his passion for justice and the well-being of all. We know it was a great comfort to him that his work will be carried forward according to his wishes within the American Monetary Institute.

There are no words to express our gratitude for your ongoing support and unending efforts in spreading Stephen's lifelong work and words embodied in his book, The Lost Science of Money.

We are sure he will be watching over us, nudging our minds should we stray from the path he created.  We will be in touch with details regarding Stephen's memorial and the future plans for AMI."


James Robertson

18 May 2017