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06/02/2009

Back To California & Arizona

By Thomas H. Greco

For more than 27 years Tom Greco has been working at the leading edge of economic and financial restructuring. He�s traveled throughout the world lecturing and working with various communities (to set up community currencies).

Greco addressed the 2006 International Reciprocal Trade Association�s (IRTA) Annual Convention, pointing out the unique opportunity the barter industry has to be a major savior of the coming currency crisis�if there was a united worldwide common currency developed.

Tom Greco�s recently published book is �The End of Money and the Future of Civilization� from Chelsea Green Publishers.

Blog dated Saturday, May 30, 2009

It seems like ages since I sent out my last missive. Checking my files, I see that it was on April 21, the day I flew from New Zealand to Australia. It�s taken a while for me to get up the motivation to complete this next installment that I started writing weeks ago. As usual, there�s been a lot going on, and I must confess to a bit of travel weariness. Despite a six week long sinus infection that lingered through the end of my tour, a lot was accomplished, but it left me more depleted than I first realized. I think I need to stay put for a while.

I�ll start with a few highlights. Yes, I�m back in the USA, having flown from Adelaide to Melbourne to Auckland to San Francisco all in the same elongated day (April 27). I was warmly welcomed by the Lub family who took me into their home where I was able to rest up. After a couple weeks in California I drove my Dodge Caravan to Tucson where I intend to base myself for the next few months. I�ll fill in a few details below�but first a word from our sponsor (that would be me).

After more than a year of intensive labor I finally got to hold my new book (The End of Money and the Future of Civilization) in my hands. It arrived in the mail at my California address just a few days after my return. What a thrill it was to look at it, to feel the weight of it in my hands, and to riffle its pages. Even the cover is pleasing to the eye. The more I look at it the better I like it; its imagery portrays the proper hopeful message of the book.

My choice of title for this book is intentionally provocative, but not at all based on wishful thinking. It expresses what is actually happening NOW. The recent emergence of commercial �barter� exchanges, mutual credit clearing associations, private voucher systems and community currencies, represent the early stages of a process of power devolution that will inevitably lead to the end of POLITICAL money.

But the end of money refers NOT ONLY to the end of political money, but also to the evolutionary process by which the essential nature of money has changed over the past two or three centuries � from commodity money, to symbolic (redeemable paper) money, to credit money. Of course, the reciprocal exchange process that money is intended to facilitate will continue, but in a different way from before, a way that does not require the use of conventional money or banks.

The ultimate stage in the evolution of money and the exchange process that is now emerging is the direct credit clearing amongst buyers and sellers, i.e., the offset of their purchases against their sales. The widespread application of this process does indeed mean, in a very real sense, the end of money.

The more than a dozen pre-publication reviews of the book have been uniformly positive and we�ve gotten important endorsements from a number of people who are both knowledgeable and well-known.

The important thing now is to get large numbers of people to read the book. I truly believe that it provides information that is essential for people to have as we negotiate what futurist Robert Theobald called, �the rapids of change.� You can help by placing orders through conventional channels, especially your local independent bookstore. If they get enough orders, they will stock it and hopefully display it. It is also important for readers to rate the book and post their reviews on Amazon.com.

Australia

My Australia visit during April was tacked on to the end of my New Zealand tour. While only a brief six days, it was both interesting and productive. I was able to renew and deepen relationships with long-time correspondents, John Zube and Shann Turnbull, to initiate some new working relationships, and to present my ideas to an attentive audience in Adelaide, the latter resulting in several new members for the host organization, Economic Reform Australia (ERA).

To all of my Kiwi and Aussie friends, both old and new, I want you to know that it was a great pleasure for me to spend time and to share ideas with you. I appreciate having had the opportunity to enjoy your warm hospitality and experience the beauty and culture of your great countries. I hope that my visits may have helped in moving your projects forward.

Reentry

Living abroad for significant amounts of time, one gets and a chance to see a broader range of lifestyles, and a different perspective on the world. Returning to the United States can be a bit of a shock. The most striking thing about Asian cities, for example, is their liveliness. The people are hard-working and enterprising, and the streets are filled with hawkers and vendors of all sorts.

Besides the food vendors who cook up amazingly delicious food right out on the street from propane-fueled carts, there are various kinds of craftspeople, too. It is common to see cobblers and sewers working right out on the sidewalk, fixing shoes or sewing up bags for passers-by. American cities by comparison are orderly and quiet, segmented into districts by function � commercial, residential and industrial, that may be active only at particular times of day or night.

In Asia, except for heavy industry, all of these happen together in the same spaces or in close proximity. I�m not saying that one way is necessarily better than the other. Both have their advantages, as well as disadvantages.

Tucson is a medium-sized city that has many cultural advantages. It is home to a major university and a sizable population of well educated citizens, many of whom have relocated or retired from colder climes. A few nights ago I went to the Museum of Art to attended a screening of the documentary film, Manufactured Landscapes. The film is a stunning portrayal of places and scenes that have been impacted by human activity.

Filmed in China, it show factories, mines, quarries, scrap yards, buildings and dams. There is a certain beauty in the images as abstractions of color and form, but that�s only because the medium separates us from the full experience of what we see � the odors, the tastes, the tactile sensations, the discomforts, and the long-term personal impact on health and sanity.

One of the most astounding things about it is the massive scale of the things that are shown. The Three Gorges Dam, for example, which is shown in various stages of completion, is half again as large as any other dam in the world. Over a million people had to be relocated to make way for the resulting reservoir. Entire cities were not only evacuated but demolished, mostly by hand, by the residents themselves, who were hired to take down the buildings to prevent their becoming navigation hazards.

The film opens with a slow pan across a factory floor that extends for two thirds of a mile, filled with row upon row of work benches and machines staffed by thousands of ant-like workers engaged in mostly repetitive tasks.

But this film is no polemic; it merely shows what is. Much of it is junk. Where does your discarded computer or electronic gadget end up. Chances are 50/50 that it ends up in China along with similar items imported from all over the industrialized world to be disassembled, smashed, cut up, and sorted bit-by-bit by legions of workers who earn pennies-per-day to do it.

One of the most moving scenes showed teenage kids inside the hulks of decommissioned oil tankers, scooping out tar and sludge so that the steel could be cut up and salvaged. These are things that we don�t normally see that reveal the hidden costs of out own lifestyles. Something to think about...

For more information on Greco visit http://www.reinventingmoney.com.



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