Wednesday, November 12, 2008

Insight with Jenny Brockie

Here is the transcript of my appearance on SBS Television's 'Insight' programme with Jenny Brockie*. The topic of the evening was 'Mortgages in a recession - How will families be affected?'. The panel was composed of various representatives of banking, real estate, politics, as well as home-owner's associations.

Jenny Brockie - We'll go to another question from the audience. Perhaps the tall fellow at the back who's been very quiet. Yes, hello. What was your question?

nobody - Thanks, Jennie. I don't know that I have a question as such. Certainly not one that anyone on the panel would care to address I expect. Rather I'd like to wonder at the rightness of an economic system run on interest and interest rates.

Banker on Panel - There's no other system. If you don't like interest you should take it somewhere else.

n - Well I understand that you like interest. It's money for nothing. But this is not your show mate. You haven't bought it yet. This is a show that seeks a variety of views, yes? And here we have the views of the lending industry, and the views of those who must borrow from them and pay them interest, yes? Well here's another somewhat more holistic angle - why not question the whole arrangement? It seems to me that it's flawed at a fundamental level and that if we were really interested in alternative views, (which is the point of the programme as I understand it), we'd step outside this model and look at how we might come to some other arrangement. [interjections from panel and audience].

No, listen, if we were discussing medicine here, as you've done in the past, it would be inconceivable to do so without including the views of practitioners of alternative medicine. And yet this discussion here is like that, except that the only people on the panel are the practitioners of conventional medicine, along with the representatives of the hospitals that employ them, the drug companies that supply them, the insurer middle men who make out in both directions, and of course the patients, happy and otherwise, of this conventional medicine. There is no alternative here. Well, now there is. And it already seems [indicates the panel] I'm making the members of the AMA here unhappy. [laughter]

JB - What is this alternative?

n - We ban interest. [uproar] Gee whiz, the bankers don't like that do they?

JB - You can't ban interest!

n - Why not? Interest used to be called usury. It used to be a sin. Christians used not to practice it. Muslims still don't. Believe it or not, economies can function without it. In fact they'd function far better. Muslim economies right now, the ones that aren't being bombed that is, are coping with the current 'economic shake-out' better than we are.

JB - But every aspect of our economy is controlled by interest.

n - It's crazy isn't it? Interest rate changes are inevitably the biggest story on any given day. They control our lives. And yet the Reserve Bank is 'independent'. Why is that? Why is the single most powerful body in this country not answerable to: the people; our representatives; anyone at all? Kevin Rudd in his election campaign declared his fealty to the independence of the Reserve Bank. Why did he do that? It's a head-scratcher for voters. So who was he talking to? That question aside, we subsequently have politicians flapping their arms about, pleading with the banks not to raise interest. Why do we, the people of Australia have no say in this? You'd almost think we were talking about the weather and other acts of God. Aren't we grown-ups? Can't we walk and chew gum at the same time? Why do we act as if there's no alternative? [yelling from panel and audience]

JB - Well what are you suggesting? That we all become Muslims?

n - Hardly. Eating fish on a Friday doesn't make you a Catholic. And eating falafel doesn't make me a Muslim. [confused laughter]

JB - So...

n - So, how about this - the means of exchange, which is all money is, is the single most crucial thing in any country. Believe it or not, it's more crucial than any other thing that we seem to think should be publicly owned and controlled by the people of this democracy. Even defence, believe it or not. And no one here would care to have our defence force as an 'independent' body answerable to no one, would they?

Audience Member - Like Blackwater! [isolated laughter]

n- Exactly, thank you. Okay then. We keep it simple. We have a single publicly owned bank. It charges no interest and nor does it pay any. It is merely a safe place to put your money. And for those small depositors thinking they'll miss out the interest they'd otherwise earn - seriously, do you earn any? Last time I did my tax and had to declare interest, in spite of having over ten thousand dollars in the bank all year, my interest was a few tens of dollars. What a waste of time! There's nothing in it for you, or me

To hell with it, scrap the whole thing. Interest only serves the bankers. We ban making money from money. The only way to make money should be from labour, ie. making goods or providing services. Charging money for money is not a service. It's a disservice. An economy is not served by paying yet more money to those who already have heaping great piles of it. It stands to reason.

Banker - This is bullshit! Why do we have to listen to this? It's economic lunacy...

n - Bullshit yourself! You want lunacy? Lunacy is global debt that exceeds the GDP of the whole world. That's lunacy! Figure the logic of this - to repay the bankers to whom we are indebted we'd have to hand them every piece of land, every building, everything we own, from our cars to our shoes, and we'd still owe them! How does that work? It makes no sense at all. The bankers, who didn't make anything, but merely ran some expensive printing presses, effectively own everything. To hell with them! To hell with the whole system! [At this point, the microphone is taken away and I am dragged from the studio].

n - [Voice diminishing down the corridor] No alternative permitted folks! You're going to pay interest whether it makes sense or not! All money flows to the bankers...

*Not really. I just made it all up.


notamobster said...

Noby- they wouldn't let you within 200 feet of a microphone, on national television, friend...that's why I love ya!

BTB-my verification word is "rescu"...strange.

nobody said...

That is strange. I wonder why it was misspelt? Hmm...

the Silverfish said...

Really? Gee whoda thunk it.
Just last nite after a wee dram of Livet, I put a beta tape in da machine backwards, and when it started to play that was the exact same program that was on.

And as I watched the security hauling this fellow out a woman in the audience asked who was that Intelligent sounding young man?
The big burly constable in charge of politicaly correct questions(who bore a striking resemblance to Dame Edna) turned to the woman and said "That Mam was Nobody just a nobody, the shows over folks nothin to see here, now just move along, move along" it was Weird I tell Yuh just plain Weird.

Then the tape broke, and I think I woke up, not sure though.

nobody said...

And I thought I was silly...

Don't let the snow do your head in Silv! Think of all the good things about snow. And it could be worse. Where I live, we have to write our names in the sand. Boring!

kikz said...

aaah, shite...

ya had me goin there for a min noby >:)

i'll try to email ya a .jpg of what was in my yard halloween night :)


silv... go dame edna!

Anonymous said...

Actually, you would have been hauled off at "You haven't bought it yet...", mate.

Nicely played though... =)

Anonymous said...

"*Not really. I just made it all up."

Dang. For a moment there I was really hoping.... Ah, well. Back to reality.

I've been on about monetary/banking reform myself for a while, both online and off, to any who'll listen.

Here's the thing. The bankers have every government in the world by the short and curlies. A single, publicly owned national bank just Ain't Gonna Happen, for the simple reasons that a) the bankers would never give their pet politicians a long enough leash to do so, b) the politicians aren't about to bite the hand that feeds them anyway and c) those who are sufficiently aware to even be able to conceive of a different system are few, and unable to get heard.

Pessimistic? Perhaps. Though there are still ways to fight back. My favored way is through stealth: to launch a new currency off of the old, an act of economic aikido. The concept is fairly simple: you know those points cards every large chain is operating? Set up a system like that, only with the points transferable between parties, ie customer-customer, business-business. Money gets created with every transaction; but then, utilizing the principle of demurrage (the opposite of interest), it decays over time, thus encouraging circulation of the currency rather than hoarding. Silvio Gessel, a philosopher-economist from the last century (whom you've likely never heard of, for a reason) came up with this idea.

Here's my collected thoughts on the matter (a work in progress, naturally):

kikz said...

and for something completely different..
hattip to python..apologies to noby;)

and the best part of all this.. monsanto's fuking roundup, can't even kill it >:)

i wanna try to find some seeds :)

found this on amaranth, while researching ratooning of okra.

ratooning, is also done to sugar cane, rice...

utilizes the (pruned) stubble and rootstock of the previous yr's plants to get a time jump on replanting..
i'm gonna try an experiment on my okra rootstock, as it is flush w/new limb buds/leaves.. shows potential for huge increase in per plant yield, if we don't get a deep freeze that kills the stock :)


Amaranth, or Amarant (from the Greek amarantos, unwithering), a name chiefly used in poetry, and applied to Amaranth and other plants which, from not soon fading, typified immortality.

Aesop's Fables (6th century BC) compares the Rose to the Amaranth to illustrate the difference in fleeting and everlasting beauty.

A Rose and an Amaranth blossomed side by side in a garden,
and the Amaranth said to her neighbour,
"How I envy you your beauty and your sweet scent!
No wonder you are such a universal favourite."
But the Rose replied with a shade of sadness in her voice,
"Ah, my dear friend, I bloom but for a time:
my petals soon wither and fall, and then I die.
But your flowers never fade, even if they are cut;
for they are everlasting."

pigweed could save the world, and us...
who'da thunk:)?

nobody said...

Thanks folks,

Yes, I admit that this was a silly daydream I had. M - you're right of course. To be honest I'd never have gotten on such a show. The audiences are carefully screened.

Demurrage, eh? I've never heard this term but I was toying with the idea, in this piece, of suggesting that a bank charges a 1% fee per annum to keep your money safe. Ideally (which is to say, I have no idea if it would be that simple) this fee would replace income taxes.

Mind you I can imagine that people would subseqently then refuse to put their money in banks. Private blackmarket banks would then spring up and we'd be back to the goldsmiths and the whole fractional thing.

But the fact that I don't have a complete plan doesn't mean I lose the argument. It just means we need more contributions from people more mathematically inclined than yours truly. Rothschilds excluded, natch.

nobody said...

And sorry Kikz, you lost me. But I shall put it into google and see what I make of it. What was this apropos?

Otherwise we have a particularly virulent pest here we call tobacco weed, or tobacco tree (it grows into a tree size). To kill it you have to cut it off at the base and apply the poison to the stump within two seconds. Any longer than that and it seals up and will certainly re-grow. A mate and I spent a day cutting them down on his property not knowing this and we completely wasted our time.

Might that be your problem with this plant?

kikz said...

sorry noby :)

my rant frm the rabbit hole ......
the economic situation and the bad possibilities it indicates - has me concerned w/home grown veg...

i just got excited doing some research on orka and pruning methods..

while reading, amaranth was mentioned. so i googled amaranth.. and found a couple of listings for it... one on an interesting website that's concerend w/famine proof foodstuffs, wild plantings frm ethopia.
which led me to another guy's website who'd done quite a bit of research on famine foods in other cultures.

i just got excited reading about amaranth.. a complete amino acid, more vit A than cabbage.....leaves/stems edible.. seed/grains can be ground for flour... it can be brewed into a beerlike beverage, a certain variety used by the hopi indians yeilds a red dye..chinese consider it high in medicinal properties...

it's just a very dynamic plant.. and i wanted to share...

sorry to wander off the path.. i did indicate a topic swerve... :)

Penny said...

nobody, I liked that, not that i ever see it happening, but, it was a good read.

aargh, I hate that I said that.

so negative.

we are only limited by the restrictions we place on ourselves,

I shall make this my mantra.

Anonymous said...

Hey n,

If you're interested in the concept, Charles Eisentstein's articles are a good place to start (that's where I learned about the idea, at least):

Money: A New Beginning (Part 2)

nobody said...

Ah soka! Kikuzu san wakarimashita!

I'm going to check it out. Part of the appeal for me (and this is trite, I know) is the sound of the word. 'Amaranthus'. Beautiful. It sounds like the name of a character from Greek myth.

Thanks Pen. 'Negative'? What? Thanks P, I am interested. Clicking now.

Penny said...

sorry, I am just trying to frame everything in a more positive wording.

sometimes, when we say things like that will never happen, It just sounds so doom and gloomy.

nobody said...

Oh ho. You don't want me to get all Buddhist on your arse do you? Ha ha ha, don't worry Pen, things are only what you make of them.

Anonymous said...

You would be branded a Terrorist/Communist/anything that ends in IST.

Either way, it was funny. You should write more funny stuff with caricatures of bankers.

nobody said...

Ayah! More stuff on bankers? I'm already up for the obvious criticism of being 'one-note'.

Don't worry AC, I ain't about to drop the subject neither. Ciao.