The hell with iPhone 8 and 5G! I’m gonna get one of these 🙂 When my current Nokia non-smart phone needs replacing that is.
Let’s not get sidetracked. There’s actually more to the world’s problems than just Donald Trump and Turkey’s RT Erdoğan.
This is clip is from a NZ source – but the same situation exists the world over:
The ending is a bit weak – so you only need to watch the first few minutes.
Look out, New Zealand. Your years of quiet, isolated complacency are coming to an end. I’m reblogging this from Lara Trace Hentz.
(New Yorker excerpt) …On a cool evening in early November, I rented a car in Wichita, Kansas, and drove north from the city through slanting sunlight, across the suburbs and out beyond the last shopping center, where the horizon settles into farmland. After a couple of hours, just before the town of Concordia, I headed west, down a dirt track flanked by corn and soybean fields, winding through darkness until my lights settled on a large steel gate. A guard, dressed in camouflage, held a semiautomatic rifle.
He ushered me through, and, in the darkness, I could see the outline of a vast concrete dome, with a metal blast door partly ajar. I was greeted by Larry Hall, the C.E.O…
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Well first up, I want to apologise for the lateness of this review. In mitigation, I will offer the excuse that my birth was still some years in the future when the book itself was published in 1936. I managed to get hold of a copy recently after a search on the Internet turned up a signed first edition at a bookshop in Symonds Street, Auckland.
Why was I searching? I’m a long-standing proponent of monetary reform – a firm believer that most of the world’s ills stem from the fact that ninety per cent of the money governing every aspect of human life on planet Earth is created as interest-bearing debt by private bankers. And not until the power to create money is removed from private interests and vested in the state, the government and the people who elect them, will true social justice ever become an achievable goal.
Back in the late 70s and early 80s in New Zealand I was actively involved with a political party/pressure group arguing for monetary reform. I stood twice (unsuccessfully) as a candidate for parliament in 1981 and 1984. I saw close up the dirty tricks the forces of reaction would stoop to ensure the Social Credit Political League was wiped out as a voice of reason in a system designed to maintain a corrupt and unjust financial structure.
Recently I have been heartened to see a re-emergence online of individuals and organisations arguing for Positive Money. It’s long overdue. The case is irrefutable. The main stumbling block is public ignorance about how money actually works. The Money Power Elite use this ignorance to maintain a grotesque system that keeps most of the world’s population in poverty and slavery.
The author of “New Zealand at the Crossroads” was Henry J Kelliher, knighted by Queen Elizabeth II in 1963 for his “services to Philanthropy”. It may have helped that he was one of the country’s richest men as a result of being owner/founder of Dominion Breweries, one of the two companies that produced most of NZ’s beer. Nevertheless, the case for Sir Henry’s philanthropy may have a better foundation than other mega-rich claimants to the title in our days.
In 1956 he set up a trust to administer an annual award for promising painters, and some of the NZ art world’s biggest names were early recipients. The award was discontinued in 1977, but a second foundation continues to present annual prizes for essays written by young students of economics.
I’ve searched online and I’ve been unable to turn up any of the subjects these young economists have written about. It also possibly detracts a little from Sir Henry’s reputation for philanthropy that his knighthood was put forward by a National (conservative) government at the time. “New Zealand at the Crossroads”, however, provides firm evidence that its author had a strong social conscience, and was at the forefront of the contemporary movement for monetary reform.
In fifteen chapters and 184 pages, Kelliher covered such topics as:
- The nature and function of money
- The social and economic disaster of unemployment
- The importance for all of economic security
- The urgent need for monetary reform
- The influence of the press in resisting reform
- The hypocrisy of the church in failing to fight for social justice
His first sentence announced that his book was “intended for those men and women who prefer to do their own thinking,” and he made a clear statement of intent in his introduction:
“It must be evident that a government which does not recognise as a fundamental duty the function of issuing all new money, and of controlling and regulating all money in circulation does not control the affairs of the country, nor is it safeguarding the welfare of the people. Such a government may govern but does not rule, because the real control of the country is in the hands of the ‘Invisible Government’ – the Money Power.”
In November 1935, in the depths of a global economic depression, and suffering more than most its socially destructive effects, New Zealand voters overwhelmingly elected the country’s first Labour Government. The main reason for Labour’s broad appeal, to farmers and owners of small businesses as well as wage-earners and the unemployed, was its “pledge to the people of New Zealand to take control of its own money and credit.” And they were not alone. According to Kelliher, “In Italy, Germany, Russia and Japan money [had] recently been put completely, or almost completely, under control of the governments of those countries.” Such a claim might cause one to wonder whether there was a more sinister agenda behind the demonisation of those countries in years to come. Whatever the case, Sir Henry argued that “There [was] ample evidence of a deliberate and well-planned conspiracy to keep this truth and knowledge from the people by those who hold this all-powerful monopoly to manufacture money and to conceal or disguise the unsoundness and iniquity of the existing system.”
That New Zealand Government after 1935 did indeed attempt to implement its pledge first and foremost by converting the NZ Reserve Bank into an entirely State institution, then using credit provided thereby to carry out a programme of house building that provided a stimulus to industry, jobs for citizens, and low-cost, high quality housing for the needy. The results of the programme saw that Labour Government beloved by the people, and its Prime Minister, Michael Joseph Savage, elevated to a status bordering on, or possibly exceeding, sainthood.
Sad to say, that programme was a one-off. Kelliher wrote prophetically in his conclusion, “The great privilege, and the still greater responsibility to carry out the wishes of the people, and to bring to full fruition the possibilities and potential effects of this momentous piece of financial legislation [the Reserve Bank Act] rests entirely with the Government. The machinery has been provided, and the future will depend on the full and effective use and wise direction of this machinery in the service of the people.”
The Government reneged on its pledge. Some argue, and it is indeed highly probable, that the supra-national “Money Power” cajoled and threatened Labour’s leading politicians into dropping their programme. Those in the government who argued for its retention were sidelined or driven out. Within a couple of years, the British Empire had launched itself into a horrendous global war, financed by traditional private sector-created debt. New Zealand took the wrong turning at those crossroads, an epochal chance was lost – and the world settled comfortably (for some) back into hands of the blood-sucking money monopolists.
As a footnote, my copy of this little book, signed by HJ Kelliher himself, 27 years before his knighthood, is dedicated to CG Scrimgeour Esq. Colin Graham Scrimgeour, popularly known as “Uncle Scrim”, was a hugely influential personality in New Zealand in the Golden Age of radio broadcasting. Under the guise of religion, “Scrim” broadcast regular weekly programmes during the Depression years giving voice to the concerns of the common people and “pushed the rigorous censorship of broadcasting to the limit”. He was a strong supporter of the Labour Party in the lead up to the 1935 election, and some say, an important contributor to its electoral success.
In spite of that, however, he was not given the commercial licence he was expecting to operate his own radio station. Savage’s Government in fact nationalised broadcasting – before later re-privatising the creation of money. As the Labour Government moved away from its financial reform pledge, Scrim became an increasingly outspoken voice of conscience. After Savage died, he was succeeded by the newly conservativised Peter Fraser, who led New Zealand enthusiastically into the Second World War, and reintroduced military conscription, against all his one-time principles. Fraser did not conceal his hatred for Scrim, had him called up for military service at the age of 40, and dismissed from his position as Controller of the National Commercial [sic] Broadcasting service.
I’m sorry to say, you are unlikely to find a copy of Kelliher’s book. I consider myself inordinately fortunate to have found this one. Call it fate or coincidence. HJK was once upon a time my grandfather-in-law – though I only met him once when he had long-since given up his reforming zeal. I do encourage you, though, to click on this link to Positive Money, and do your best to draw aside the veil of ignorance covering this all-important of subjects. Eighty years on, it’s more important than ever!
Postscript: You may wonder why I’m posting this seemingly irrelevant book review on my blog site about Turkey. It occurred to me that these ideas on financial reform were very prevalent in the 1920s and 30s, around the time Mustafa Kemal Atatürk was trying to build a modern viable republic from the economic and social ruins of the Ottoman Empire. I can’t help wondering if he managed to finance some of his rebuilding projects by intelligent use of the new nation’s credit.
I haven’t yet turned up any corroboratory evidence – but neither have I found any serious discussion of where the money actually did come from. It’s equally true that you will search hard through any histories of New Zealand in those days before you find even the most oblique reference to how Labour financed its state housing project. So I’m not ruling it out.
Hats off to the Swiss! I never thought I’d see the day when an initiative to reform money and banking originated in in that little haven for the world’s mega-rich to stash their ill-gotten gains! Just goes to show how much things have changed/are changing!
I hope and pray promoters of the move can get the message across to enough of their fellow citizens before the referendum is held – and I imagine they will have plenty of opposition. The Swiss have this nifty system whereby, if a petition carrying enough signatures is presented to their parliament on any issue, it automatically triggers a national referendum.
The Vollgeld Initiative did just that – and the government is now committed to asking their people whether they want to remove from private bankers the right to create money. Well, you can bet those bankers won’t let that happen without a hell of a fight! If our experience in New Zealand with the referendum on electoral reform is any indicator (and I’m sure it is), the forces of established finance and capitalism will focus all their considerable might on retaining their inalienable right to rip off their fellow earthlings to feed their own greed.
No date has as yet been set for the referendum – and no doubt large sacks of Swiss francs will be expended by interested parties on mounting a huge propaganda campaign to persuade Swiss voters that supporting the Vollgeld Initiative will herald in the end of the world as we know it. Others might argue that would not be altogether a bad thing!
Up until the 1980s we had a political party in New Zealand committed to doing exactly what those Vollgeld people want to do. The Social Credit movement won twenty-one per cent of votes cast in our 1981 General Election, but was denied fair representation in parliament by the ludicrously undemocratic electoral system operating in those days. Nevertheless, shocked out of their complacency by the strength of public support, the forces of reaction combined to deprive Social Crediters of even their minimal parliamentary representation and effectively wiped out the party as a voice for change.
According to Knight Frank Research, New Zealand now has “the world’s most frenetic property market”, with houses in Auckland selling for an average of $NZ 1 million. Young New Zealanders starting out in life are naturally unhappy they can’t afford to buy a house – something that previous generations took for granted. They are blaming, with some justification, foreign (and local) “investors” for driving up prices. But check this out: an article in the NZ Herald finance section noted, more or less as an aside, that “banks are having to borrow more money on the international market to fund their lending because of a slow-down in retail deposit growth.” So, can someone please explain why banks in New Zealand have to borrow US dollars (I suppose) from abroad and convert them into NZ dollars to lend to people in their own country?
Point One: Banks do not lend the money deposited in accounts to other borrowers. They actually create new money for lending by means of the fractional reserve system (see below).
Point Two: I understand that, if I want to import goods from abroad into New Zealand, I will probably have to use some internationally accepted currency – or work out some kind of bilateral agreement (see below). I totally fail to see, however, why I should have to borrow foreign currency from an offshore bank, and convert it into NZ dollars for spending on something, such as a house, that already exists in my country.
The United States government is currently holding in custody an Iranian gentleman with Turkish citizenship, Reza Zarrab, on charges of money laundering. The charges relate to transactions that came to light in December 2013. It seems that Zarrab was facilitating a deal involving the Iranian and Turkish governments, a major Turkish bank, and a large amount of gold, with the aim of circumventing a United States trade embargo on Iran.
Well, certainly it’s not a nice thing to go behind your friend’s back and make deals to his detriment – but let’s look at the background. The United States slapped trade sanctions on Iran in 1979 after an Islamic revolution ousted the Shah, a US puppet who had ruled the country since a CIA-sponsored coup overthrew the democratically elected government of Mohammed Mossadegh in 1953. The revolution came after 26 years of misrule during which the rights of most Iranians were subordinated to the interests of the United States oil lobby and a local elite. The Ayatollah Khomeini came to power, 52 American diplomats were taken hostage and held for 444 days, President Jimmy Carter’s reputation was irreparably tarnished, and anyone who wanted to remain friends with America was obliged to cut ties with Iran.
Turkey and Iran are next-door neighbours. They are Muslim countries and their people have a history of close ties going back millennia. They are natural trading partners, and both have goods and services the other needs and wants. Turkey complied with the US’s trade embargo for decades, at considerable cost to its own economic well-being. It’s not always easy, however, for America’s allies to know what they have to do to keep Uncle Sam happy, since his government has a record of switching allegiances and stabbing former allies in the back to suit the short-term interests of its financial backers.
Increasingly, sovereign governments are looking at ways of implementing bilateral deals with trading partners to avoid having to use American dollars and comply with self-seeking American restrictions. Russia, China, and now Turkey all seem to be looking into this very sensible strategy.
Nevertheless, they have to be careful. It may look like common sense, but the present world financial order was set up for a reason – and it wasn’t just to facilitate international trade, and certainly not to improve the lot of the common man and woman in every corner of the globe. The international financiers who control most of what goes on in the world have ways of enforcing compliance with their will, or at least of punishing governments that fail to comply.
The United States government propped up financially and militarily the despotic 29-year regime of Hosni Mubarak in Egypt. When an Arab Spring uprising forced Mubarak’s removal, and Egypt’s first democratic election chose a Muslim to replace him (as you might expect an overwhelmingly Islamic country to do), the mavens of global finance withdrew their support, precipitating an economic crash that led to Mohammed Morsi’s ousting and the reinstatement of a military junta.
Venezuela, possessor of the world’s second-largest oil reserves, is currently experiencing a disastrous economic crisis largely as a result of plunging oil prices. Global oil prices are at their lowest levels for fifteen years, primarily because of the US transforming itself from an importer to an exporter of crude oil. Why would they risk the enormous long-term environmental damage of the oil fracking process? The US has a long history of interfering to ensure the failure and collapse of socialist governments in Central and South America. US-friendly Saudi Arabia can see out a period of low oil prices. Most of their labour force are indentured workers from impoverished Asian nations – unlike Venezuela, whose government has been trying for years to improve the lot of its own poorest citizens.
Turkey’s currency has taken a hammering in recent months on international “money markets”, losing more than 25% of its value since September. My theory is foreign interests opposed to Turkey’s President Tayyip Erdoğan supported local factions in their coup attempt on 15 July. Frustrated by its failure, the attack has turned to a slower but possibly surer method – attacking the nation’s currency to create economic hardship and strengthen local opposition to the AK Party government. For his part, Mr Erdoğan has encouraged citizens to show faith the Turkish Lira and sell off any stockpiles they may have of Yankee dollars.
Interestingly, soon after the presidential appeal, a large advertising hoarding appeared in a major thoroughfare near us, urging people to do the opposite, to buy foreign currency! I did my civic duty and complained to the metropolitan council – and the ten-metre billboard has now been removed.
But to return to the Swiss banking reform movement. The people behind the Vollgeld Initiative have set up a website providing answers to crucial questions. Here’s a brief summary:
What is sovereign money?
Most people believe that the money they have in their bank accounts is real money i.e. real Swiss Francs (or pounds Sterling etc). This is wrong! Money in a bank account is only a liability of the bank to the account holder, i.e. a promise the bank makes to provide money, but it is not itself legal tender.
What would change with the Swiss Sovereign Money Initiative?
The way the money system works today doesn’t comply with the intention of the Swiss Constitution (Article 99: “The Money and Currency System is a matter of the State”).
What are the fundamental advantages of sovereign money?
Sovereign money in a bank account is completely safe because it is central bank money. It does not disappear when a bank goes bankrupt. Finance bubbles will be avoided because the banks won’t be able to create money any more. The state will be freed from being a hostage, because the banks won’t need to be rescued with taxpayers’ money to keep the whole money-transaction system afloat i.e. the “too big to fail” problem disappears. The financial industry will go back to serving the real economy and society. The money and banking systems will no longer be shrouded in complexity, but will be transparent and understandable.”
A recent article in The Economist, while predictably coming out against the proposed monetary reform, nevertheless does provide a delightfully simple analogy to illustrate how the present system works:
“Children are sometimes reassured that new siblings arrive via friendly storks. The reality is messier. Money creation is much the same. The ‘stork’ in this case is the central bank; many think it transfers money to private banks, which act as intermediaries, pushing the money around the economy. In reality, most money is created by private banks. They generate deposits every time they make a loan, a process central banks can influence but not control. That alarms some, who worry that banks use this power heedlessly, thereby stoking disruptive booms and busts.
Campaigners in many rich countries want to strip private banks of the power to create money. In Switzerland members of the “Vollgeld Initiative” presented the government with enough signatures in December to trigger a national referendum on the subject. Bank deposits, they point out, make up some 87% of the readily available money in Switzerland, vastly exceeding notes and coins. Since money creation is the main fuel of both inflation and growth, they argue, it should not be in private hands, let alone entrusted to institutions that are prone to binge and purge.”
Simple enough, huh? If I were you, I’d cut and paste those two paragraphs into my next blog post so that all my readers could learn the truth.
I’m posting this before the final results are in, so I don’t know for sure who will be the next President of the United States of America, and Leader of the Free World, if you believe that stuff they’ve been telling us for years.
It’s definitely looking like they/we’ve got the Big DT though. “Markets,” headlines tell me, “are in turmoil”. Well, I have to tell you, I don’t really care who wins. If I were a US citizen I’d probably be part of the majority of American citizens who don’t cast a vote because they know it won’t make one iota of difference.
Obviously, however, “the markets” care. And who, exactly, are these nameless, faceless, panic-stricken creatures that are, according to my desktop dictionary, in “a state of great disturbance, confusion or uncertainty”?
It’s the money market, of course – and its denizens, the 1% that actually govern the United States, and think they have the right to suck the whole world dry so they can live in luxury beyond the imagination of most of the rest of us.
Here’s an interesting opinion piece I found in the New York Times. I just had to pay a visit to see how they were taking the news of a likely Trump victory:
LONDON — Whatever the result of the United States election, politics has been “changed, changed utterly,” to use the words of the poet W. B. Yeats on Ireland after the 1916 Easter Rising. And not just in America. Across the Western world, there is a rising anger at “the system.”
This anger is implacable and spectacular. It is causing long-established party systems to dissolve; trust in elites, experts and even basic science to collapse; and overt racism to rear its ugly head again. Democratic norms and institutions are openly disdained; illiberal and authoritarian ideas from the alt-right and far left are moving from the fringe; and everywhere, truth and civility are squeezed out amid rancor and conspiracism.
The center is struggling to hold. Welcome to what The Guardian commentator Jonathan Freedland recently called “the new age of endarkenment.”
Establishment politicians, economists and policy makers know something is happening but, rather like Mr. Jones in Bob Dylan’s “Ballad of a Thin Man,” they don’t know what it is. Perhaps that is because the truth is so very inconvenient: The source of much of the anger is the very social system that they have created these last 40 years — globalized, neoliberal and destructive of the social contract between governments and peoples on which the political center rests. Many people — enough to transform politics as we have known it — feel this system to be simply intolerable. Despairing that the sunlit promises made to them will ever come true, they now seek to turn the whole thing upside down, however they may.
It is no longer a question of the anger moving the “Overton Window,” the concept developed by the researcher Joseph P. Overton to describe what is seen as politically reasonable at any given time, as smashing it. The rapid, deep and relentless waves of creative destruction that have crashed over people’s heads have made some into winners — most spectacularly, the gilded 1 percent. But many others have experienced change as a profound and traumatic loss.
The neoliberalism that has been the economic orthodoxy since the Reagan and Thatcher era has hacked away at what would once have cushioned the fall of the new dispossessed. The decay of the welfare state, in Britain at any rate, has reached such a pitch that its agencies have become — as portrayed in Ken Loach’s latest film, “I, Daniel Blake” — institutions of conscious social cruelty.
The angry feel left behind as they have seen inequality explode. In 1950, top executive pay in Britain was 30 times that of the average worker; in 2012, it was 170 times. In their study “The Spirit Level: Why Equality Is Better for Everyone,” Richard Wilkinson and Kate Pickett demonstrated that extreme inequality is associated with rising illness, family breakdown and crime, mental distress and drug use — as well as a general fraying of what policy makers call “social cohesion.”
The angry feel the old parties no longer represent them. In truth, they don’t.
“We are all Thatcherites now!” Peter Mandelson, the guru of New Labour in Britain, once declared ahead of a global gathering of “Third Way” leaders.
So it has proved. The mood of de-subordination has fueled left-wing insurgencies: Syriza in Greece, Podemos in Spain, Corbynism in Britain and, of course, Bernie Sanders’s “political revolution” in America. But it has also fueled the right-wing nationalist movements of Donald J. Trump, Nigel Farage and Marine Le Pen (in the United States, Britain and France, respectively). Once loosed, the negative energies of de-subordination can be diverted into the ugliest channels: racism, anti-Semitism, conspiracism and misogyny.
And they are not going away after the election on Tuesday. These swamps cannot be drained by economics alone, any more than they were created by economics alone. But without a return to an economics of the common good — not some impossible utopia, but what the 17th-century philosopher Thomas Hobbes called “commodious living” — anger will continue to express itself as hate.
Constructing a new politics of the vital center after this tumultuous period will require so much more than understanding and empathy. It will take trusted governments, democratic social movements and a reforming zeal to give “radically different arrangements” a stable institutional form. We need to give people a reason to believe again that, in Bruce Springsteen’s words, “Wherever this flag’s flown, we take care of our own.”
In amongst all the bad news for Turkey, it’s encouraging to see some things are going well. Thanks to Mark for spotting the article and passing it on.
Turkey again took the second place after China in terms of the number of contracting companies building the largest volume of projects across the world outside their home countries for the ninth year in a row, according to the latest list of the world’s “top 250 contractors” by Engineering News Record (ENR) magazine, with 40 companies on the list.
Turkey came just after China, which topped the list with 65 companies. The United States followed Turkey with 39 companies on the list, which ranks the 250 largest world construction contractors, both publicly- and privately-held, based on general construction contracting export revenue generated from projects outside each firm’s respective home country.
Turkey’s Polimeks was the top Turkish company ranking 40th in the list, followed by Rönesans, which ranked 44th, and Enka, which ranked 79th. TAV, Ant Yapı Industry, Yapı Merkezi, NATA, Çalık, Tekfen and Yüksel followed the top three.
“It is a great honor for us to mark the ENR list, which is the leading reference point in our sector, with 40 companies, 35 of which are TMB members, and to rank in second place in the world after China for nine years in a row,” said TMB President Mithat Yenigün.
“Despite a number of negative developments in our largest markets and all uncertainties in the global conjuncture, our companies also achieved increasing their share of global revenue,” he added. Read the article