How the actual magic money tree works
Shock data shows that most MPs do not know how money is created. Responding to a survey commissioned by Positive Money just before the June election, 85% were unaware that new money was created every time a commercial bank extended a loan, while 70% thought that only the government had the power to create new money.
The results are only a shock if you didn’t see the last poll of MPs on exactly this topic, in 2014, revealing broadly the same level of ignorance. Indeed, the real shock is that MPs still, without embarrassment, answer surveys.
Yet almost all our hot-button political issues, from social security to housing, relate back to the meaning and creation of money; so if the people making those choices don’t have a clue, that isn’t without consequence.
How is money created? Some is created by the state, but usually in a financial emergency. For instance, the crash gave rise to quantitative easing – money pumped directly into the economy by the government. The vast majority of money (97%) comes into being when a commercial bank extends a loan. Meanwhile, 27% of bank lending goes to other financial corporations; 50% to mortgages (mainly on existing residential property); 8% to high-cost credit (including overdrafts and credit cards); and just 15% to non-financial corporates, that is, the productive economy.
What’s wrong with that? On the corporate financial side, bank-lending inflates asset prices, which concentrates wealth in the hands of the wealthy. On the mortgage side, house prices rise to meet the amount the lender is prepared to lend, rather than being moored to wages. The lender benefits enormously from larger mortgages and longer periods of indebtedness; the homeowner benefits slightly from a bigger asset, but obviously spends longer in debt servitude; the renter loses out completely.
Is there a magic money tree? All money comes from a magic tree, in the sense that money is spirited from thin air. There is no gold standard. Banks do not work to a money-multiplier model, where they extend loans as a multiple of the deposits they already hold. Money is created on faith alone, whether that is faith in ever-increasing housing prices or any other given investment. This does not mean that creation is risk-free: any government could create too much and spawn hyper-inflation. Any commercial bank could create too much and generate over-indebtedness in the private economy, which is what has happened. But it does mean that money has no innate value, it is simply a marker of trust between a lender and a borrower. So it is the ultimate democratic resource. The argument marshalled against social investment such as education, welfare and public services, that it is unaffordable because there is no magic money tree, is nonsensical. It all comes from the tree; the real question is, who is in charge of the tree?
What could we do instead? We could do QE for the people, overt monetary financing in which a government creates money for social benefit, such as green infrastructure or education. Or helicopter money, a central bank distributing it to everyone, either in a one-off citizen’s dividend or a regular citizen’s basic income. The nature of centrally created money should itself be opened up for debate, whose starting point is: if we agree that commercially created money is skewing the economy, can we then agree that it should be created by a public authority, even if we don’t yet know what that authority would look like.
Income inequality linked to inequality of life spans for first time
High income inequality has been linked to inequality of longevity by new research from the London School of Economics and Politics and Political Science (LSE) and the Vienna University of Economics and Business.
According to the research by Professors Eric Neumayer and Thomas Plümper, published in the latest issue of the American Journal of Public Health, greater income inequality before taxes and income transfers in a country results in greater inequality in the number of years people in that country live. In contrast, the greater the re-distribution of incomes via taxes and transfers, the greater the equality in life spans.
Eric Neumayer, Professor of Environment and Development at LSE, said: “Our research gets to the heart of why income inequality matters beyond concerns about people having more or less money to buy material goods, for example. One of its consequences, namely inequality in how long people live, is profoundly disturbing.”
Among the Western developed countries the researchers looked at, the United States was the most unequal in longevity, with relatively high pre-tax income inequality and relatively low income re-distribution. Eastern European countries in the sample such as Estonia, Poland and the Slovak Republic, were also among the most unequal in longevity.
Even when the researchers re-analysed their findings without including these countries, to find out if they alone were determining the results, their findings concerning the link between income inequality and longevity inequality upheld.
The countries that had the lowest levels of inequality of lifespans were Iceland, Sweden and Switzerland. The United Kingdom was close to the average.
Countries with higher levels of income inequality often have a higher prevalence of poverty, which increases the number of premature deaths among the poor and leads to greater inequality in longevity. The researchers suggest two other ways in which income inequality results in higher inequality in longevity:
High income inequality can lead to the spatial segregation of the rich and the poor. Poorer communities and neighbourhoods have lower levels of social cohesion, experience higher rates of crime, social disorder and violence and receive fewer and lower-quality public services, with potentially negative health consequences for those that live there.
Income inequality can also affect political decision making, with the very rich having much more influence. This can skew policies towards benefitting the relatively rich at the expense of the relatively poor, for example, by lowering government investment in publicly funded education, health care and other public services that benefit people independently of their personal income.
Professor Neumayer said: “Governments can ensure that longevity is more equally distributed, well beyond any specific health care policies or health and safety regulations, by putting in place policies that ensure income is more equally distributed across a society.”
This is the first research to look at the link between income inequality and longevity inequality across countries. The researchers’ analysis looked at 28, mainly Western developed, nations over a period spanning up to 37 years (1974 to 2011).
Inequalities of Income and Inequalities of Longevity: A Cross-Country Study by Eric Neumayer and Thomas Plümper is published in the January issue of the American Journal of Public Health
To be in a stratified system is against well being and public health.
If you want to reduce violence in society, reduce inequality.
< html >
< body >
< iframe width = "420" height = "345" src = "https://www.youtube.com/embed/QiX-e3sNp0w">
Professor Lesley Green statement made on 2Aug17 to the Standing Committee on Agri, Tourism and Economic Development
AUGUST 8 · CUSTOM
“My name is Lesley Green I am a Professor in social sciences at the University of Cape Town.
I teach social science research methods, I also direct a program called Environmental Humanities at UCT and I also teach a graduate course called “Science, Nature, Democracy”. And I want to put on record to the committee that from a contemporary social science perspective, the kind of social science that is being proposed in a consultancy framework, is not acceptable.
It’s not acceptable for a number of reasons, the one is that in respect of questions of climate change, social science research has shifted completely.
And the kind of social science that is being proposed here this morning does not take account of contemporary international shifts in the social sciences to recognise that you cannot just consult stakeholders, as defined by property owners in respect of an area that is the commons.
We live on a planet that is in a crisis because we are not paying attention to the commons. And the definition of the commons is that it is something that affects not only property owners. But the idea of private property is directly informing the kind of social sciences that is mentioned this morning, and that affects also the way of thinking of space and spatiality. But that approach means not paying attention to the flows of ecology. We are living here an ecology [of the PHA] that can’t be divided up into little pockets.
On that map over there you can see all the bodies of water. If you take aerial photographs back to the 1920’s when the first aerial photographs were taken of this area, you see a substantially much larger number of bodies of water that were feeding this aquifer. You cannot feed an aquifer on little parcels of land here and there that has been carved up. The water that runs off streets is dirty.
The flows of ecology are critical. It affects water, it affects soil, it affects birds and it affects people — regardless of property ownership lines. The health of the soil affects the life of the people.
Contemporary social science will make a direct connection between gut biomes and soil health here in the Cape Flats and Khayelitsha, and in turn to epigenetics, which affects present and future generations. It’s that kind of integrated social science that looks at health, that looks at ecology, together. That understands that healthy soil builds healthy bodies. That does not just submit to the idea that social science consists of stakeholder meetings with property owners, value chains, retailers, markets and so on. That is not acceptable. The proposed research approach also doesn’t take account the critical responsibility of social science at this time, which is to consider not only where people are at, in this economised world that we live in — but to consider what kind of future is this economised world we building? Getting opinions from stakeholders is not adequate to providing the democratic task of framing leadership in this situation.
How do we bring ecology into a democracy that over the years has made so many decisions only on the economy? Economy depends on ecology. The two words even have the same root: “oikos”, which means home. Ecology and economy are both essential if a city is to be a home. But in the city of Cape Town, economy has come to shape just about every planning decision. If the PHA goes, then the ecology of the city is destroyed. You will be left only with the ecology managed by SANParks for the wealthy, and for tourists, with the illusion that we have a city with ecology.
But the city itself will be vulnerable to drought, and its food system will be vulnerable to fuel costs and transport costs. Because the ecological functioning of the city will have been destroyed. This is not only bad natural science, it is bad social science. And it is in contrast with city greening projects that are being celebrated as world leaders elsewhere.
Leadership is what is needed here, and for this I am appealing to the committee. I respect and admire your meeting here on this site today – thank you for coming. I want to say that leadership in this instance requires looking at much more than short-term financial cycles or five-year electoral cycles or one-year balance sheets. We need to be looking at future generations. In cities around the world, you’ve got generations that are suing government, younger generations that are suing government who are not taking account of their futures.
And in this situation, you know, one of the problems is the way consultancies are done. Development studies at university level will tell you this. There are so many books that have been published on the problem of the role of experts who are not based on the ground where the issue is that is needing to be addressed. I can offer you a bibliography on the problem of the role of experts. And the issue is when the democratic debate is outsourced, when ecology is not taken into account, when the flows of ecology are overridden by property boundaries, when the commons is not considered, when climate change is not considered, the kind of social science produced by experts will be generating evidence, but it will be evidence based on the wrong questions. You will get evidence, but it will not be useful evidence.”
The New Human Rights Movement reinventing the economy to end oppression by Peter Joseph
Society is broken. We can design our way to a better one. In our interconnected world, self-interest and social-interest are rapidly becoming indistinguishable. If current negative trajectories remain, including growing climate destabilization, biodiversity loss, and economic inequality, an impending future of ecological collapse and societal destabilization will make “personal success” virtually meaningless. Yet our broken social system incentivizes behavior that will only make our problems worse. If true human rights progress is to be achieved today, it is time we dig deeper–rethinking the very foundation of our social system. In this engaging, important work, Peter Joseph, founder of the world’s largest grassroots social movement–The Zeitgeist Movement–draws from economics, history, philosophy, and modern public-health research to present a bold case for rethinking activism in the 21st century. Arguing against the long-standing narrative of universal scarcity and other pervasive myths that defend the current state of affairs, The New Human Rights Movement illuminates the structural causes of poverty, social oppression, and the ongoing degradation of public health, and ultimately presents the case for an updated economic approach. Joseph explores the potential of this grand shift and how we can design our way to a world where the human family has become truly sustainable. The New Human Rights Movement reveals the critical importance of a unified activism working to overcome the inherent injustice of our system. This book warns against what is in store if we continue to ignore the flaws of our socioeconomic approach, while also revealing the bright and expansive future possible if we succeed. Will you join the movement?