“So you think that money is the root of all evil. Have you ever asked what is the root of all money?” – AYN RAND, Russian-born American writer
Yesterday, I spent several hours defragmenting my thoughts as it pertained to “the root of all money” in order to upgrade the operating system of my mind to find answers to the questions posed above. I came across this website positivemoney.org, which I would advise anyone who is curious about how money is created to peruse and study. Interestingly, on their opening page they had a video which was entitled, ‘Is Money at the root of our big economic and social problems?’ Given my background as a healthcare provider, what intrigued me about this site was that it had the courage to search for the root cause so as to make an accurate diagnosis, rather than to solely look for and treat the symptoms of our economic problems. I was pleasantly surprised that they also sought to answer a similar question to the one I posed in an earlier post, Is Credit Creation a Public Good or a Private Evil? (Please see their videos: Banking 101, Power of Banks vs Democracy, A Simple Solution to the Debt Crisis, Could These 3 Simple Changes to Banking Fix the Economy?, and Positive Money’s unofficial draft bill showing how their reform proposals could be implemented in law in the UK parliament, to remove the power to create money from banks and transfer it to a democratic and accountable process, working in the public interest.)
Having come to understand that the short-term profit-maximising love-of-money private banking system is the root source of all our social and environmental ills, does this understanding throw any light on other outstanding issues that may pertain to us as a people? Given that we are all shackled to an economic system that fosters a form of interest-bearing unrepayable-debt slavery with perpetual servitude, is it possible that the private banking system also financed the enslavement of our African brothers and sisters in the Americas?
In his article Capitalism and Slavery, Greg Grandin wrote:
The argument that capitalism was dependent on slavery is, of course, not new. In 1944, Eric Williams, in Capitalism and Slavery, made the case. In 1968, the historian Lorenzo Greene wrote that slavery “formed the basis of the economic life of New England: about it revolved, and on it depended, most of her other industries.” Even before the expansion of slave labor in the South and into the West, slavery was already an important source of northern profit, as was the already exploding slave trade in the Caribbean and South America. Banks capitalized the slave trade and insurance companies underwrote it. Covering slave voyages helped start Rhode Island’s insurance industry, while in Connecticut, some of the first policies written by Aetna were on slave lives. In turn, profits made from loans and insurance policies were plowed into other northern businesses. Fathers who “made their fortunes outfitting ships for distant voyages” left their money to sons who “built factories, chartered banks, incorporated canal and railroad enterprises, invested in government securities, and speculated in new financial instruments” and donated to build libraries, lecture halls, universities and botanical gardens. Many of the millions of gallons of rum distilled annually in Massachusetts and Rhode Island were used to obtain slaves, who were then brought to the West Indies and traded for sugar and molasses, boiled to make more rum to be used to acquire more slaves. Haiti’s plantation’s purchased 63 percent of pickled fish from New England. In Massachusetts alone, David Brion Davis writes, the “West Indian trade employed some ten thousand seaman, to say nothing of the workers who built, outfitted, and supplied the ships.”
Even the private banking system was very much also involved in wars over the past 300 years or so.
By the late 17th century, the need to finance wars gave further impetus to the money-creating mechanism. A special relationship began between the emerging private banking systems and governments. The oldest surviving agreement of this type can be traced back to 1668, with the license of the Swedish Bank of the Estates of the Realm (the name was changed in 1867 to Riksbank, as the Swedish Central Bank is still known). The agreement gave the power of emission of paper money to a private bank , the Bank of the Estates of the Realm, when the crown urgently needed money to fund a war against Denmark. The same situation took place in Britain a generation later with the founding of the Bank of England (1688), to which the monopoly of emission of paper money was assigned by King William of Orange in 1694, when he needed 1.2 million pounds for a war against the French. From England, this practice spread around the world. In the United States, this same deal- bank-debt money accepted as legal tender by the government-was part of the Federal Reserve Act of 1913. – Lietaer, Bernard; Dunne, Jacqui (2013-01-04). Rethinking Money: How New Currencies Turn Scarcity into Prosperity (BK Currents) (pp. 25-26). Berrett-Koehler Publishers. Kindle Edition.
Earlier this month, we had in St. Kitts-Nevis a Reparations for Slavery Symposium which was hosted by the National Commission for UNESCO and the UNESCO Scientific Slave Route Committee. Here are excerpts from the WiNNFM article, Beckles: Caribbean People Have the Will to Push for Reparations, reported by Toni Frederick-Armstrong on the event:
Do Caribbean governments and Caribbean people have the will to push for reparations for slavery from European governments?…
…Sir Hilary (Beckles) said that reparatory justice was necessary for the descendants of slaves, not only to get compensation for the crimes committed against their forbearers who were forcibly brought to and enslaved in the Caribbean, but also to get closure…
…“We fought for our freedom, we got it. We fought for our independence, we got it. We’re going to fight for reparations, we will get that, and then we can move on with our lives.”
The CARICOM 10-point plan proposed to achieve reparatory justice includes: a full formal apology from European governments, illiteracy eradication, an African Knowledge Programme and debt forgiveness.
The template for CARICOM Reparation ten-point plan is as follows:
1. Full Formal Apology
3. Indigenous Peoples Development Program
4. Cultural Institutions
5. Public Health Crisis
6. Illiteracy Eradication
7. African Knowledge Program
8. Psychological Rehabilitation
9. Technology Transfer
10. Debt Cancellation
At this point, although I support the need for reparatory justice for slavery, I honestly feel that financial reparations from the European governments is sincerely misplaced. Although society in general in Europe and North America benefited from the atrocities of slavery, most of the descendents of Europe and North America were not responsible for this form of capitalism. Secondly, having to take monies from the tax-payers of those countries to pay for the sins of the past so that the above ten-point plan can be implemented, is like taking from Peter to pay Paul.
As you may have already surmised, in my humble opinion, reparations should come from the private banking institutions who have funded all manner of evil in the past, inclusive of wars and slavery. We need a Truth and Reconciliation exercise in which we collectively acknowledge that the private banking system was and currently is the root cause of most, if not all the man-made social and economic ills. Over the centuries it has put love for short-term profits over and above the long-term well-being of the people and the planet. Although physical slavery has been “abolished,” many of those who are descendents of slavery, and many of the citizens around the world, still live in an insidious form of economic slavery shackled by the austerity programs of the international financial bankers. It is time now that governments and the people of the world demand the abolition of this form of debt-slavery and demand our emancipation from this usurous form of capitalism. It is only in the reforms like those proposed by Positive Money above, that the CARICOM ten-point plan can be successfully implemented, as it is in “the removal of power to create money from banks and transfer it to a democratic and accountable process, working in the public interest,” will reparatory justice be accomplished for our generation and their children to come.
As the saying goes, “Once bitten, Twice shy.” Thus it is incumbent on our Caribbean leaders to lead that struggle. The question we now need to ask ourselves is this: Do Caribbean governments and Caribbean people have the will to push for reparations for slavery, both past and present, from the private banking system? The privilege of money creation which is a public good must now return to the people, and managed via a more democratic and accountable process, not in servitude to private-profit, but in the service of the public interest, which is ultimately its people and the planet.