The Ecology of Money: Debt, Growth, and Sustainability

Lexington Books
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Modern economies must "grow" because money borrowed for investment can be repaid only by expanding production and consumption to meet the burden of usurious rates of interest.

The roots of this dynamic between debt and growth lay in the financial revolution of the late seventeenth and early eighteenth centuries in Britain which established a new usurious monetary system.

For the first time in history credit was made widely available, but only on condition of an exponentially increasing debt burden. To pay back debts production had to increase correspondingly, leading to the industrial revolution, economic "growth", and modernity itself.

Though private creditors gained a monopoly over the creation of credit, and were disproportionately enriched, the resulting economic growth for a time was great enough to benefit most debtors as well as creditors, ensuring widespread prosperity.

That is no longer the case. With today's eco-crisis we have reached the limits of growth. We no longer have the natural resources to grow fast enough to pay our debts. This is the real root of our current financial crisis.

If we are to live sustainably, our system of money and credit must be transformed. We need a non-usurious monetary system appropriate to a steady-state economy, with capital broadly distributed at non-usurious rates of interest.

Such a system was developed by an early nineteenth century American thinker, Edward Kellogg, and is explored here in depth. His work inspired the populist movement and remains more relevant than ever as a viable alternative to the a financial system we can no longer afford.
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About the author

Adrian Kuzminski is an author and Research Scholar in Philosophy at Hartwick College. His previous works include Fixing the System: A History of Populism, Ancient and Modern (Continuum, 2008); Pyrrhonism: How the Ancient Greeks Reinvented Buddhism (Lexington, 2008); and The Soul (Peter Lang, 1994). He is also Founder and Moderator of Sustainable Otsego, a social network of several hundred subscribers in the Cooperstown, NY, area, focused on promoting sustainable practices.
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Additional Information

Publisher
Lexington Books
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Published on
May 16, 2013
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Pages
152
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ISBN
9780739177181
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Language
English
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Genres
Business & Economics / Economics / General
Political Science / History & Theory
Political Science / Public Policy / Economic Policy
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Content Protection
This content is DRM protected.
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Eligible for Family Library

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This Festschrift was "presented" in electronic form to Buchanan on the occasion of his eightieth birthday on October 3, 1999, after dinner in Fairfax, Virginia. As one might have expected, the response to our call for papers was vo luminous. In looking over the many contributions, we felt that a "published" Festschrift was also possible and fitting for the eightieth birthday of so prodi gious and influential a scholar as Professor Buchanan. To that end we have assembled the following volume. In selecting the papers to be included here we have basically tried to choose those papers which in some way bear on Buchanan's contributions. Perfectly good papers about issues not related to Buchanan's research agenda or not referring directly to Buchanan's work were not included. Space constraints did not allow universal coverage, so choices had to be made. It should be stated clearly that these were our choices based on the criterion that the contribution be relevant to Buchanan's work. Buchanan had nothing whatsoever to do with the selection of papers for this volume. Once choices had been made, we arranged the papers by subject matter ranging from various aspects of Buchanan's work in economics, political science, philosophy, and related areas, to some more personal recollections of Jim as a professor, friend, and colleague. Including the latter material was also our decision, and this probably represents a choice with which Jim would not have agreed. We think, however, that the reader will find these pieces interesting and informative.
In the current climate of dissatisfaction with "democratic" Western political and economic systems, this is a timely book that demonstrates a true political Third Way.
Populism is distinguished from other political movements by its insistence on two things conspicuously missing from modern systems of political economy: genuine democracy based on local citizen assemblies, and the widespread distribution among the population of privately-owned economic capital. Fixing the System offers a comprehensive historical account of populism, revealing the consistent and distinct history of populism since ancient times. Adrian Kuzminski demonstrates that populism is a tradition of practice as well as thought, ranging from ancient city states to the frontier communities of colonial america-all places where widely distributed private property and democratic decision-making combined to foster material prosperity and cultural innovation.
In calling for a wide distribution of both property and democracy, populism opposes the political and economic system found today in the united states and other Western countries, where property remains highly concentrated in private hands and where representatives chosen in impersonal mass elections frustrate democracy by serving private monied interests rather than the public good. As Kuzminski demonstrates, as one of very few systematic alternatives to today's political and economic system, populism, offers a pragmatic program for fundamental social change that deserves wide and serious consideration. Populism is a genuine "third way" in politics, a middle path between the extremes of corporate anarchy and collective authoritarianism. As America takes stock of her current situation and looks toward the future in the 2008 election year, Fixing the System offers a trenchant and timely study of this deep-rooted movement.
Brilliant and engagingly written, Why Nations Fail answers the question that has stumped the experts for centuries: Why are some nations rich and others poor, divided by wealth and poverty, health and sickness, food and famine?

Is it culture, the weather, geography? Perhaps ignorance of what the right policies are?

Simply, no. None of these factors is either definitive or destiny. Otherwise, how to explain why Botswana has become one of the fastest growing countries in the world, while other African nations, such as Zimbabwe, the Congo, and Sierra Leone, are mired in poverty and violence?

Daron Acemoglu and James Robinson conclusively show that it is man-made political and economic institutions that underlie economic success (or lack of it). Korea, to take just one of their fascinating examples, is a remarkably homogeneous nation, yet the people of North Korea are among the poorest on earth while their brothers and sisters in South Korea are among the richest. The south forged a society that created incentives, rewarded innovation, and allowed everyone to participate in economic opportunities.

The economic success thus spurred was sustained because the government became accountable and responsive to citizens and the great mass of people. Sadly, the people of the north have endured decades of famine, political repression, and very different economic institutions—with no end in sight. The differences between the Koreas is due to the politics that created these completely different institutional trajectories.

Based on fifteen years of original research Acemoglu and Robinson marshall extraordinary historical evidence from the Roman Empire, the Mayan city-states, medieval Venice, the Soviet Union, Latin America, England, Europe, the United States, and Africa to build a new theory of political economy with great relevance for the big questions of today, including:

- China has built an authoritarian growth machine. Will it continue to grow at such high speed and overwhelm the West?

- Are America’s best days behind it? Are we moving from a virtuous circle in which efforts by elites to aggrandize power are resisted to a vicious one that enriches and empowers a small minority?

- What is the most effective way to help move billions of people from the rut of poverty to prosperity? More philanthropy from the wealthy nations of the West? Or learning the hard-won lessons of Acemoglu and Robinson’s breakthrough ideas on the interplay between inclusive political and economic institutions?

Why Nations Fail will change the way you look at—and understand—the world. 
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