So many of our dreams at first seem impossible, then they seem improbable, and then, when we summon the will, they soon become inevitable.
— Christopher Reeve (1952–2004)
Pretend for a moment the money fairy waved her wand and money vanished; our community is in suspended animation. We are still a nation with abundant natural and cultural wealth. We still have many goods and services we are ready and willing to create and exchange with each other. But we have no easy way to make exchanges. To get our economy moving again, we need to create money and get it out into the community and into service.
Who do we want to have power? How could we create some new money? Who would create it? How would new money be distributed? How would we decide? Big decisions begin with clarifying values and goals. So what are America’s? Let’s start with beliefs, values, and goals as stated in our Constitution. Do they still hold true? What do they mean to us?
What do WE believe?
Do we agree…
All people deserve a separate and equal station under the law?
The playing field must be level? Do we want to be a nation ruled by a wealthy elite, who preserve power dynasties over generations through inherited wealth and/or the privilege of money creation? What role should wealth play in public decision-making. How can our money system create and protect an equal access playing field?
We are endowed by our Creator with certain inalienable rights, that among these are life, liberty and the pursuit of happiness.
What does it mean for Life to be a right? How does this apply to the availability of basic life support – food, shelter, education, justice, healthcare and money? (I strongly recommend avoiding the contentious issue of abortion. Yes, it is a right to life issue, but in the context of our money system, it would be distracting and only tangentially relevant.)
What does it mean for Liberty to be a right? Are liberty and freedom the same thing? How are they different? Can we be free and still have laws we must follow? Do we agree we all deserve to participate in decisions that affect our lives and livelihood? What’s the best way to resolve conflicts between individual freedoms and responsibility to others and the environment? How do we balance responsibility to others and to the commons with personal freedom to make our own choices for our lives? What is the role of government in setting standards and establishing protections? Because we are only as free as we are informed, how can we have robust, unbiased institutions for informing citizens about public issues?
What does it mean for the Pursuit of Happiness to be a right? Should we have public protections for time to care and nurture our families, time to relax, to play, to sing, to dance? Do our rights include a limited work week, vacations and bonding time with our babies?
Our national goals?
Here are the goals as stated in our Constitution. What do they mean to us today?
To form a more perfect Union – E Pluribus Unum
Our Constitution says its purpose is to form a more perfect Union. Is this still our goal?
Our original motto, E Pluribus Unum, is Latin for, from many one. This fundamental idea is represented in the name of our country, The United States of America. What does unity mean? How is unity achieved when people have very different ideas about what is best for the nation? How do we fit diversity into unity? How do unequal abilities fit into unity? What does equal opportunity mean in practical terms?
A government of, by and for the people
What does it mean for government to be of the people? -By the people? -For the people? How can our money system support this kind of government?
What justice or injustice is there under our current system? What needs to improve? How can a change in the money system support improvement?
Insure domestic tranquility
What role does equal footing play in establishing domestic tranquility? What role do extremes of wealth play? And remember John F. Kennedy’s words, “Those who make peaceful revolution impossible will make violent revolution inevitable.” How do his words apply today?
Provide for the common defense
What does common defense mean? How are we defending the commons when we go to war to protect specific industries, sectors of our economy, or our banking establishment? What criteria can determine whether we are defending the commons or defending the privilege, power and wealth of a few individuals?
Promote the general welfare
Our founders recognized that if we want to establish a more perfect Union, then we must promote the general welfare – a strong foundation for all of our citizens. “Promoting the general welfare” is mentioned in our Declaration of Independence and in our Constitution as one of its main purposes. Do we still believe promoting the general welfare is one of our most important national goals? How can we tell the difference between that which promotes the welfare of a few individuals or businesses and that which promotes the general welfare? How do we determine a just balance between the two? What is the role of government policy in promoting each?
Secure the blessings of Liberty to ourselves and our Posterity
What are the blessings of Liberty? What role do we want money to play? What role does participation in public decision-making play? What criteria, standards and protections do we need to maximize the security of our blessings of Liberty?
Our national values?
It’s helpful to clarify the values that we want our money system to embody.
Buckminster Fuller, American architect, visionary, futurist (1895–1983) said, “Integrity is the essence of everything successful.” What does this mean? What is integrity? How can we assure that our money system matches our values?
Do we believe that honesty is the bedrock of good relations and good decisions? How does honesty relate to other values like integrity, fairness, respect and caring? If we want to have honest money, how can we structure its creation so the process is open to deliberation by our representatives? How can we assure our new money system provides honest information for making decisions about creation and destruction?
Do WE, collectively need to set standards for truth-telling by our major media outlets? How could we demand high standards AND balance the rights of individuals to freedom of speech?
Fair and square
Do we want our relationships with others to be fair? What does fair mean in relationships?
This drive to measure, to equate, to compare and to establish fairness has been a driving factor in the development of money systems. If we want fairness, how can we assure that fairness is a factor in how we assess whether a money system is serving us as it should?
Freedom and meaningful participation
Freedom is a fundamental American value. What do we mean by Freedom? How can our money system protect freedoms and ensure responsible participation in the common wealth?
Caring and mutual respect
Riane Eisler in her book, The Real Wealth of Nations: Creating a Caring Economics (2007), said, “In our time, when high technology guided by values such as conquest, exploitation, and domination threaten our very survival, we need economic inventions driven by an ethos of caring. We need a caring revolution.” 1 I agree.
One of life’s greatest rewards is to care for others and to have people care for us. Treating people with respect is the foundation of caring. We want to connect – to be ourselves and be acknowledged, to do and receive a fair living. We want to give and receive and participate in community.
How can we make time to care for each other, our communities and our planet AND have a prosperous economy? How can we have prosperity without exploiting others? How can we have a money system that supports a caring and mutually respectful nation?
All of the above are possible.