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Move Your Money

I want to wish all our readers a very happy new year. May the next year, the next decade, become a major step forward for all of us in finding ways to build a better future. I personally see the next decade as being rife with problems that need addressing at their most root levels. Challenges are afoot, but we live in exciting times, to be sure.

The last decade was quite an eye opener to the world. Multiple converging events collided to shake many awake out of their apathy, and the proliferation of the internet helped spread the word like never before. Environmentalism went from a concept that was scoffed at to being the overriding concern of the majority. Today you’ll find sandal wearing tree huggers side by side with briefcase wielding wannabes. The tanked economy woke people up, worldwide, with the startling realisation that free market capitalism has completely failed them. Celebrations for the fall of the Berlin Wall and communism were half-hearted and filled with cynicism, with the realisation that the greed that forms the basis of capitalism brings very real consequences. We watched in horror, while the ‘invisible hand‘ (see also) went AWOL when we needed it most and governments worldwide took trillions of taxpayer dollars and spent us all into the next century to salvage the largest industries from their own stupidity and lack of foresight. By now we were so punch drunk we could only stare as the Wall Street bankers who orchestrated the collapse made off with golden parachutes and bonuses that defied belief. And, although the economic slowback reduced oil prices from the through-the-roof highs of 2008, thus muting alarm over this for too many with short attention spans, we now have millions more people the world over conscious of the outright vulnerability of our present situation as we ride the crest of peak oil. The unjust wars fought with a veiled but obvious motive disgusted and infuriated all but the most callous or ignorant, and the decade was peppered with annual, high level international talks about climate change that were doomed to fail from the outset.

With these thoughts in mind, I share the video clip below. Despite only being uploaded onto YouTube three days ago (Dec 29), it’s already been watched 173,000 times.

I think this clip can get us all thinking about the potential of weakening the banking stranglehold by simply moving our money out of their hands. As well as moving our money to more community-minded institutions, isn’t this also the time to think seriously about local currencies, like those we see featured in the recent In Transition 1.0 video, and really get serious about buying local and working cooperatively to build relocalised resiliency?

I’d be very interested to hear your ideas on changing the system from the inside out. If you’re involved in financial aspects of Permaculture, comment to tell us about it. Or, better yet, write up a post and send it along (editor (at)

Further Viewing:



  1. I’m not from the USA but from the Netherlands. Still, the same principles still hold (more or less).

    I’ve been thinking about this for quite a while: moving my money to an – lacking a better description – honest bank. We (by which I mean the Dutch) even have a website to help us!

    If you’d have something like that in the USA, or even worldwide, I’m sure it would make things a lot easier for people who want to change the world, but don’t have the time to figure out what to do all the time (and why should they reinvent the wheel all the time?)

    Triodos also has branches in Belgium, Germany, United Kingdom and Spain. If anyone else knows of any “good” banks, please share the knowledge!

    PS: Any Dutch people here with experience with Triodos or ASN? I can’t quite make up my mind which one’s better for me…

  2. Anti-Bailout: check
    Anti-War: check
    Anti-Banksters: check
    Coming Economic Collapse: check
    Anti-capitalism: no no no. What we’ve seen behind all the above disasters is rightly called corporatism, or fascism, not capitalism. Only the existence and exploitation of government force allows bailout thefts, wars, fiat money. Can the “invisible hand” commit any of these crimes without using the levers of political power?

  3. Right On JBOB,
    Inflation did not exist until governments eradicated the gold standard and introduced fractional reserve banking systems. Now they manipulate the currency and create another form of tax called inflation. I say avoid these paper tokens too.

  4. Hi JBob. I don’t disagree with you, at least not completely. You’ll note I didn’t write that the invisible hand caused the problem. In fact, I said that the invisible hand was AWOL (absent), and governments intervened.

    If they hadn’t intervened, the ‘invisible hand’ would have run its course and those companies would have collapsed. The ultimate end result of such a collapse would not necessary have been a bad thing in many cases – except that I would like to see us find ways to avoid sudden collapses and instead see a rapid, but staged, progression to sustainability that minimises suffering and social upheaval. But this requires the kind of holistic and sound thinking that is very rare to find in our industry-influenced leadership.

    When I use the term ‘capitalism’, I mean it in the sense of the capitalism that we are witnessing/experiencing today – not the capitalism that could have been, or yet could be. Just like the ideals of communism were never realised, same goes for capitalism. Capitalism is based on freedom, which is something worth fighting for. But, freedom only has value if we use it wisely – for the benefit of mankind, and not just for personal, selfish gain. Our prisons, for example, are full of people who exercised their freedom to hurt others. Given what we’re doing to the world, and each other, through economic mechanisms, most of mankind should be locked up. At the very least, we need rehabilitation. It’s illegal to hurt someone with a bludgeon or gun, but in our present system our governments actively encourage us to hurt people with our credit cards.

    The invisible hand will still fail us even without government interventions, because it is rarely connected to ethical values and restraint. In our present industrial/consumer free-for-all, the providers of all the goods and services the invisible hand brings to us, as well as the users/consumers of the same, are almost universally acting only in their own interests. The mechanism is at fault only because of our inherent weakness of character. It is this weakness of character that takes us, I believe, through a cycle that inevitably leads us back to government dependency, and to what I predict will eventually become seriously draconian controls. In other words, as the dance between manufacturers and consumers becomes increasingly obscene, resulting in collateral damage to people and place, governments snatch back powers that we don’t want them to have. We lose our privileges. Worse, we end up screaming at governments to intervene to protect us from out of control market forces. This is my concern, for example, with Copenhagen. We need to be careful what we wish for…. We see it in many other areas. Some people use their freedom to blow planes out of the sky. The end result is we all spend more time in airport security, get our phones tapped and we see the proliferation of CCTV cameras everywhere. It not only ‘happens’ to us, but people actively approve or even demand these measures are taken, as a desire for personal safety overrides our concerns about the potential of complete state control.

    If you want a clear view of my opinions on left and right, capitalism and communism, please read this and this. If you read them right through, you may understand my point on this issue a lot better. Of particular interest is the Tytler Cycle chart and my thoughts on it, halfway down the former of these two links.

    Yes, indeed, it is corporate feudalism that is at fault here, combined with individual greed and centralisation. The root issue is within ourselves. Individual, personal greed and ambition will always find a way around any obstacles (checks and balances) that may be erected to keep them in check. We need a cultural awakening that has everyone making right decisions. No ‘patch’ on our system of either regulation or deregulation will make up for this shortfall. It is impossible to design an economic system that functions perfectly for the good of everything within the biosphere, if the people within the system don’t collectively share a sustainable and compassionate vision.

    If there were no thieves in the world, there would be no locks. If there was no aggression in the world, there would be no armies. If society was made up of ethically-minded localised communities, there would be no government.

    My 2c.

  5. so the real message Craig is “wake up everyone”
    positive futures are possible
    take care and the future is what the human makes it
    morale co-operation and respect to everyone :)

  6. It is fine to talk about greed as the root cause. However, that does not mean there are no economic system that will perform better. As an analogy, people can fall when working at height. The root cause would be gravity (greed). But we do not blame it. We put systems that prevent the fall such as restraints and barriers. Such systems do work and make working at heights safer.

    When someone falls from the platform, we should look at the system and find the hole. We know that gravity (greed) is always there. Barring a suicidal worker, there must be a defect on the system.

    In the economic world, greed is always there. The question is, what is it in the system that allows greed to run rampant? When you trace this, you will find that the culprit is the fiat money.

    Fiat money is money that has no linkage to any physical good. The value is simply based on the declaration by government that it will be used for payments (legal tender). But there are no real goods backing the money value. The amount of money can be increased and decreased anytime. Most of the time the tendency is of course to increase the amount of money in circulation. This will lead to a decrease in the value of money, which means prices go up (inflation).

    When the public loses trust in the money, a hyper inflation follows, and eventually the money system collapses. Like what happened in Zimbabwe recently. The only way to stop a runaway inflation is to relink money to a hard standard like gold. It can not be increased easily.

    For anyone interested in the subject, I would recommend the book “What Has Government Done to Our Money” but Murray N. Rothbard, available online:
    or as pdf version:

  7. Hi Johan

    I agree fully that we can/should have a better system. Indeed, that’s what permaculture is all about – the intelligent design of systems for sustainable human habitat. This is why I’ve gone to great lengths in search of possible alternatives. Many permaculturists fail to bring politics and economics into their design thoughts, and so collectively our efforts don’t amount to much in the grand scheme of things. Without a systemic transformation of social structures, things will get so ugly that you’ll never have enough pumpkins and potatoes to survive through what lies ahead, no matter how well designed your back yard is.

    My point is that even with the best design of ‘invisible structures’ (economics, politics, educational and other social institutions), they will fail if the people within them fail to work together, ethically and compassionately for the common good.

    In regards to fiat money. As you’ll see from the two links in the ‘Further viewing’ section at the end of the above post, I’ve been trying to tell people the same story as yourself. Just we need to be conscious that a gold-backed money system is not a magic cure for problems that have root causes that run far deeper.

    You say “In the economic world, greed is always there.” While this is true, in our world we’ve come to find this is acceptable. To accept this is to say that we are, one way or another, sooner or later, doomed to fail as a race. And we do accept it. We try to ‘manage’ it, greed, dealing with its symptoms, and even capitalising on it, rather than endeavouring to root it out through holistic, ethical education and the resulting revival of family and community values that could come from this.

    It may sound wholly idealistic, but as we’re at a juncture in human history that is without precedent, and as the world is looking around seeking solutions, I think we need to aim as close as possible to the real target, as hitting anything but smack dab centre – the bullseye – ultimately only delays social and environmental meltdown, rather than avoiding it entirely and permanently.

  8. “the startling realisation that free market capitalism has completely failed them”

    You can call our system a lot of things: corporatism, fascism, corporate feudalism. But free market it is must assuredly not.

  9. Hi Pete.


    Sometimes I allow myself to write freely, without having to qualify every single *%+#$! word, as otherwise it makes for extremely boring writing. If I apply checks and balances to every single statement, the regular readers who actually know what I’m trying to say, because they’ve heard me write about the unfree ‘free’ market many times before, would get tired of reading. I’m not writing a legal document here, and I am not a rapporteur.

    I called it ‘free market capitalism’, not because it is actually ‘free’, but because that is the name it is known by. I normally put the word ‘free’ in this context in inverted commas for this reason. Please forgive this glaring omission….

  10. Craig,

    I appreciate your detailed responses here. I will try to read some more of your background writings if I get time.

    It seems we probably disagree less than I first estimated. Yes, there is plenty of room for ethical/cultural improvement in our society. I think permaculture is one big part of that puzzle, especially insofar as it encourages us to hop of the consumer/taxpayer treadmill long enough to ask what we really want out of life. I see political freedom, by which I mean anarcho-capitalism of the Murray Rothbard sort, as necessary to allow us all to experiment with different life paths, share information, and find the ones that work best.

    The mind boggles at how creative solutions to our problems could flourish if only the government didn’t meddle with or dicate virtually every aspect of our lives. For a tiny example: how many more fruit trees and windbreaks could I have planted this year if 30%-50% of my money hadn’t been stolen as taxes at all levels?

    Free people from the choking yoke of empire, warfare, welfare, and bureaucrats and I have confidence that planty of us will make good decisions not based on blind “greed.”

  11. “the startling realisation that free market capitalism has completely failed them”

    The failure always was and is Government – not the market.

  12. Hi Cyrus. I don’t agree fully. The ‘market’, the invisible hand, on its own will still lead to problems, as I keep stating, if it’s not operating within ethical boundaries. A completely free market results in all kinds of abuses against people and place if the people wielding that freedom are not working for the benefit of all.

    Here’s one of billions of examples that could be shared:

    Just completely deregulating the market will not achieve nirvana – not at all.

    We need to stop this swinging between left and right, and recognise that without a resurgence in attitudes that place social values as paramount, we will continue the slippery slide into economic and environmental hell.

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