April 20, 1998. The American Museum of Natural History announced today results of a nationwide survey titled Biodiversity in the Next Millennium, developed by the Museum in conjunction with Louis Harris and Associates, Inc. The survey reveals that seven out of ten biologists believe that we are in the midst of a mass extinction of living things, and that this loss of species will pose a major threat to human existence in the next century.
According to these scientists’ estimates, this mass extinction is the fastest in Earth’s 4.5-billion-year history. Unlike prior extinctions, this so-called “sixth extinction” is mainly the result of human activity and not natural phenomena.
Now I’m as cynical as the next man when it comes to reports coming out of the mainstream press, and I will confess that for a long time events such as climategate had me at least on the wall when it came to man-made global warming, but one thing my years of cynicism have taught me is to follow the money. If someone can profit from spewing a lie, there will always be a human crass, craven and low enough to do so.
Which is indeed why I find this report from almost 20 years about mass extinction so disturbing. These biologists weren’t paid to express an opinion; there was no agenda that I can see operating, and they were just telling it as they see it. The recent WWF report suggests that just over half of all species have become extinct since 1970; given that things seem to be accelerating, how long will it be until we’ve destroyed the other half of life on Earth?
Perhaps most importantly, what lies beneath this wholesale destruction, and our apparent inability to actually do anything about it? Ladies and gentlemen, I present to you, fiat money and its effects upon our biosphere:
Once upon a time, in a small village in the Outback, people used barter for all their transactions. On every market day, people walked around with chickens, eggs, hams, and breads, and engaged in prolonged negotiations among themselves to exchange what they needed. At key periods of the year, like harvests or whenever someone’s barn needed big repairs after a storm, people recalled the tradition of helping each other out that they had brought from the old country. They knew that if they had a problem someday, others would aid them in return.
One market day, a stranger with shiny black shoes and an elegant white hat came by and observed the whole process with a sardonic smile. When he saw one farmer running around to corral the six chickens he wanted to exchange for a big ham, he could not refrain from laughing. “Poor people,” he said, “so primitive.” The farmer’s wife overheard him and challenged the stranger, “Do you think you can do a better job handling chickens?” “Chickens, no,” responded the stranger, “But there is a much better way to eliminate all that hassle.” “Oh yes, how so?” asked the woman. “See that tree there?” the stranger replied. “Well, I will go wait there for one of you to bring me one large cowhide. Then have every family visit me. I’ll explain the better way.”
And so it happened. He took the cowhide, and cut perfect leather rounds in it, and put an elaborate and graceful little stamp on each round. Then he gave to each family 10 rounds, and explained that each represented the value of one chicken. “Now you can trade and bargain with the rounds instead of the unwieldy chickens,” he explained.
It made sense. Everybody was impressed with the man with the shiny shoes and inspiring hat.
“Oh, by the way,” he added after every family had received their 10 rounds, “in a year’s time, I will come back and sit under that same tree. I want you to each bring me back 11 rounds. That 11th round is a token of appreciation for the technological improvement I just made possible in your lives.” “But where will the 11th round come from?” asked the farmer with the six chickens. “You’ll see,” said the man with a reassuring smile.
Assuming that the population and its annual production remain exactly the same during that next year, what do you think had to happen? Remember, that 11th round was never created. Therefore, bottom line, one of each 11 families will have to lose all its rounds, even if everybody managed their affairs well, in order to provide the 11th round to 10 others.
So when a storm threatened the crop of one of the families, people became less generous with their time to help bring it in before disaster struck. While it was much more convenient to exchange the rounds instead of the chickens on market days, the new game also had the unintended side effect of actively discouraging the spontaneous cooperation that was traditional in the village. Instead, the new money game was generating a systemic undertow of competition among all the participants.
This parable begins to show how competition, insecurity, and greed are woven into our economy because of interest. They can never be eliminated as long as the necessities of life are denominated in interest-money. growth.
Competition and scarcity are features, rather than failings, of our current monetary system. It works to concentrate the world’s wealth in to the hands of those who issue it, and we are now so far down this road that the richest 1% of the population own more than the poorest 50%. Wealth inequality is now far beyond anything seen in pre-revolutionary France or America, yet onwards we grind with this insane system.
What can be done, do I hear you ask? Poor little me, what could I possibly do in the face of such overwhelming injustice? Plenty, my friends, plenty. If you wish to be a spoke in the works of the banking machine that is destryoing the world, I offer you a simple solution; stop paying for the machine. This can be as simple as taking your money out of a bank and keeping it in cash; this simple solution, if just a small per centage of the world’s population were to follow it, would be enough to crash the world-destroying banking system, and really, with interest rates at multi-century lows, what have you got to lose? In reality, when you deposit your money with a bank, you are lending it to them and they will do as they see fit with it (if indeed they return it all – just ask a Cypriot about that – and lest you think “That could never happen here”, ask yourself why so many other countries were swift to write into legislation bail-in clauses (read: legalised theft) in the aftermath of the Cyprus crisis), and fit to these means people making a profit at any cost, including by destruction of the very planetary ecosystems upon which we depend.
I shall quote you a banker as an instructive truth about these institutions:
Banking was conceived in iniquity and was born in sin. The Bankers own the earth. Take it away from them, but leave them the power to create deposits, and with the flick of the pen they will create enough deposits to buy it back again. However, take this power away from them, and all the great fortunes disappear, and they ought to disappear, for this would be a happier and better world to live in. But, if you wish to remain the slaves of Bankers and pay the cost of your own slavery, let them continue to create money and control credit.
Do you wish to remain a slave? While your very slavery is destroying not only your world, but the world of everyone and everything around you? If you have the courage to simply see what is, you can change all of this by just taking your money out of a bank. There are many other possible solutions, but this simple act of not actually funding the world-destroying machine, if just a small number of us found the wisdom to do so, would fundamentally change the causes of the world’s sixth mass extinction.