(This essay was added to the website on 3 January 2013, and was last modified on 19 January 2015)
Welcome to the world of EnMo Economics
"I care not how affluent some may be, provided that none be miserable in consequence of it." Tom Paine, 1796
"In the mercantile regulations the interest of our manufacturers has been most peculiarly attended to; and the interest, not so much of consumers, as that of some other sets of producers, has been sacrificed to it." (1)
"I see in the near future a crisis approaching that unnerves me and causes me to tremble for the safety of my country…corporations have been enthroned and an era of corruption in high places will surely follow." (2)
The importance of economics to society cannot be overstated, yet relatively few people understand the subject anywhere near as well as they should. Adam Smith understood it pretty well and almost 250 years ago identified it as a serious problem, for he also wrote:
‘All for ourselves, and nothing for other people, seems, in every age of the world, to have been the vile maxim of the masters of mankind.’ (3)
Lincoln recognised the same problem a hundred years later, and tried to do something about it. But as every schoolchild knows, he was murdered.
The general ignorance of people about economics is not unintentional. It could be argued that economics is the new world religion and, just like old, ordinary religions, it would never do for ordinary people to really understand it. Ordinary people are only required to accept on faith or trust the “truths” being expounded by the high priests and do as they’re told, not to ask awkward questions - and certainly never to contradict the so-called “truths”.
The fact that the new millennium heralded the start of arguably the greatest man-made economic catastrophe of all time has without doubt weakened the case of the economic high priests of Wall Street and the City of London; and some previously unheard-of economists who have long been pointing out that the emperor isn’t wearing any clothes are suddenly being listened to - people such as Steve Keen, for example, professor of economics at Sydney University for some thirty years. He has so little regard for the high priests of his own discipline that he wrote an entire book on the subject: “Debunking Economics”.
An important part of the institutional brainwashing on this subject is the generally accepted view that economic models can only be either capitalist or socialist – that nothing else exists. But more and more people are finally realising the cynical sham that is the dominant economic religion of the planet, capitalism; and having been indoctrinated to fear socialism they’re looking round for alternative ideas... and finding them.
Welcome to the humane world of EnMo Economics, an economic philosophy that incorporates the best principles of socialism and capitalism and discards the worst practices of both. It’s capitalism with a humane heart, socialism without useless state bureaucracy and where people can be different to others if they want to be. It’s pure commonsense, and like all beautiful things, essentially pretty simple.
The recent struggle between socialism and capitalism pretty much ended with a victory for capitalism. Capitalism, as we know it, is not what Adam Smith (who was once known as its inventor) would have had in mind. Capitalism, as we know it, is a modern term for an ancient practice – exploitation of the poor and the weak by the rich and the powerful. It is utterly ruthless and intrinsically self-destructive – and it often destroys itself - but its ruthlessness and promises of quick and vast riches for the most ruthless makes it easy to replicate and re-emerge somewhere else. That’s why every empire that’s ever existed hasn’t lasted more than a few centuries before some new young and thrusting empire has come along to fill the power vacuums that are inevitably created when old and decrepit empires eventually collapse under the weight of their own debauched excesses and corruption. Although the venue frequently changes, the economic model of empire is basically the same today as it was thousands of years ago. The constant change of venue is because it’s never been the intention of emperors to build stable long-lasting economic systems committed to the permanent economic welfare of all citizens and long-term conservation of resources, emperors have only ever wanted more and more wealth and power for themselves as quickly as possible. Fill your pockets today and let tomorrow take care of itself has always been the underlying economic principle of empires, and it still is.
When socialism emerged in the nineteenth century it sent instant shivers down the spines of the ruling classes – especially when it took the form of communism, it’s more fundamentalist cousin. The rulers of the world, shivering in fear at the possibility of economic justice for the majority, resolved never to rest until it had been eradicated. Grover Cleveland, for example, the former US president, said this as long ago as 1888, in his State of the Union address:
“Communism is a hateful thing and a menace to peace and organised government.”
Western governments which, with very rare and very brief exceptions, have always been run by tiny handfuls of very rich and powerful people (the 1%) were always bitterly opposed to any chance of economic justice for the 99%; and no measure was deemed too extreme for them to take in order to ensure the demise of communism; and whilst the Soviet Union existed the 1% knew they could not sleep soundly in their beds.
Socialism did not disappear because the philosophy of socialism is seriously flawed. Had it been left alone and unmolested from its formal birth just after the Russian Revolution, it’s quite likely that it would have been capitalism that ceased to exist some decades ago. But it’s not the nature of power and wealth to allow any challenges to their supremacy. When the 1% are in charge, as they nearly always are, competition to them is never welcome, and competition in the form of new economic theory is no exception.
Although socialism is a perfectly reasonable economic system, and infinitely more humane than unbridled capitalism, it had its faults. Chief amongst these was the creation of the super-state of uselessness – a monstrous bureaucracy that served little practical purpose other than creating vast numbers of pointless clerical jobs. But another significant failing was the considerable disincentive for people to exert themselves if they wanted to. People were conditioned to worship conformity, despise difference, and to treat with contempt, fear and distrust those who wanted to be different or to have more for themselves and their families. In spite of that some people could and did try to earn a little more by working longer hours than necessary, but the penalty in terms of extra tax deducted from their pay made it pointless to do so – taxes that would only be wasted paying for more pointless bureaucrats performing more pointless tasks.
Offsetting these weaknesses of socialism are its fine and valuable ideals, such as ensuring that no one goes hungry or thirsty, that no one is homeless or unable to receive a good education or medical treatment. These are great ideals, and although socialism was defeated by its ruthless enemy, history will know that it was a defeat to a pitiless monster – not a philosophical failure; and the great ideals of socialism will always inspire the hearts of good people until they become reality, making it impossible for capitalists ever to sleep easily in their beds.
Capitalism has only one virtue – but it’s a very important virtue. Capitalism encourages people to own property – and being able to own property will always be important to people. Even in the most minimalist “primitive” communal subsistence economies, people liked to own things such as their own basic tools and clothing. If capitalism was kept in check by humane government it would be a reasonable, workable economic model; but with the very rare exception of countries like Switzerland, history shows that this is almost never the case. Capitalism quickly takes over government to create the most evil of all kinds of government: fascism.
The version of capitalism being practised at the turn of the twenty first century is a bastardised, obscene capitalism that must have Adam Smith spinning in his grave – an economic model where the poor’s rights to property are sacrificed to the superior rights of the never-satisfied super-rich to own as much property as they can get their grasping hands on. But nevertheless, the fact that capitalism encourages this principle – property ownership – is strongly appealing to most people, because most people like to own their own things; and they often like to own different things to others. If this were not the case, if the capitalists were not able to exploit human desire for material wealth because that desire didn’t exist, the capitalists would have ceased to thrive thousands of years ago, when they were merely boy-emperors. Therefore any economic model that aspires to long-term success cannot afford to overlook the very human desire to own things.
2. EnMo Economics in a nutshell.
EnMo Economics simply differentiates clearly between the economic roles of the state and the private sector, recognising that both are essential to a sound economy. It proposes that provision of ENOUGH essential products and services is the duty of the state, whilst the provision of MORE i.e. non-essential products and services, may be left to the private sector. Imagine a policeman and a security guard, say. It’s the duty of the state to provide the policeman, and it's the business of the private sector, properly regulated, to provide security guards. Or picture a standard water tap, and bottles of water. The state should be responsible for what comes out of everyone's kitchen tap, but the private sector, properly regulated, may sell as many bottles of water as it likes for whatever profit it can make. Or imagine a nut cutlet and a piece of steak. The state should ensure that nutritious vegan food is plentiful, cheap and easily available, but the provision of steaks can be left to the private sector, properly regulated.
There could and should be some overlap. For example, when Britain used to have an excellent and fully functioning state-run health service there were also expensive private doctors and health clinics for the super-rich to waste their money on; and when Britain used to have an excellent and fully functioning state-run education system there were also expensive private schools for the super-rich to ensure their offspring weren’t contaminated by the children of those who provided their wealth. BUT… the state must always retain regulatory power over the quality of goods and services provided by the private sector.
So EnMo Economics is a philosophy based on the principles of ENOUGH and MORE. It’s the duty of the state to ensure that people have ENOUGH to enjoy secure, comfortable, leisurely lives. The private sector may be free to provide MORE for those who choose to spend their time accumulating material wealth and possessions. The basic definitions of these terms will usually be obvious: it’s obvious that the state must ensure no one need go hungry or without reliable public transport, say; but the state is not responsible for ensuring that everyone has gourmet meals or a Lamborghini. Although there will always be a grey area between the two roles, as time passes there should be a gradual improvement of the quantity and quality of goods and services provided by both sectors.
That's all well and good, you say, but how does the state pay for the essential goods and services it provides?
No discussion on economic philosophy is complete without considering the important subject of money. An economy doesn’t have to use money in order to work, in the same way that a machine doesn’t have to use oil in order to work; but the fact is that money can help economies to work a lot better, just as oil helps machines to work better. Socialists have little regard for money, and generally view it in a similar way that a mechanic considers oil: helpful to the proper working of the machine. Capitalists, on the other hand, not only see money as the very purpose of their existence they also see it as a commodity in its own right - something which can be bought and sold, something whose value can be increased or diminished by manipulating demand and supply. So by affixing some monetary value to anything and everything needed or produced by an economy, as capitalists do, it’s easy to see that whoever controls money-supply controls that economy.
In this particular debate socialists easily hold the correct position: money is a very useful tool to the economy, but should definitely not be treated as a tradable commodity whose value can be easily manipulated.
The physical nature of money is a curious thing, but it’s very important to understand it as well as possible. When most people think of money they think of coins and pieces of paper which are given some kind of relative value. Some people who understand the subject quite well think that this relative value has something to do with a quantity of gold kept safe and sound in some government bank vault somewhere. Although paper money and coins used to have some relationship to stockpiles of gold, today that relationship is fairly tenuous – almost to a point of being non-existent. The overwhelming majority of money in circulation today is no more substantial than fresh air, for the overwhelming majority of it is in the form of credits and debts maintained by the computer systems of privately owned banks.
The fact that most money is no more substantial than fresh air is very, very important to understand: this IS how most of the world’s monetary systems work. In most western countries today money is initially created in deals struck between some central bank and the ruling government. The reserve banks’ side of the deal is that they will quite literally create money, mostly in cyberspace, which they will supply to governments – plus an interest charge for doing so. The governments’ side of the deal is that they will extract taxes from the working population to “repay” this “borrowed” money – plus the interest charge. But the fact is that central banks don’t actually have in their possession the physical money they supposedly “lend”; but governments nevertheless extort taxes from working people to “repay” something that never existed in the first place. Believe it or not, this surreal relationship between governments and central banks is exactly the way in which money first comes into existence today – out of nothing - and it’s very important to bear that fact in mind for what comes later in this article.
So, given that money is like the oil of an economy (but unlike oil it’s actually created from nothing and often has no physical form whatsoever), it should be fairly clear to see that whoever physically controls the supply of money is in a fairly powerful position. Who should occupy that powerful position is one of the core disputes between socialists and capitalists. Socialists argue the state should control it. Capitalists argue that private banks should. So who’s right?
To properly answer that question the discussion needs to widen out to take account of society as a whole.
Margaret Thatcher infamously remarked that there’s no such thing as society, a view which perfectly reflects the capitalist’s position on the subject. Socialists on the other hand, almost by definition, consider the existence of society is as obvious as that of the sun.
Thatcher, an arch-capitalist, revealed through her remark the absolute contempt that capitalism has for the notion of society. She denied the existence of society not once but twice in the same interview, with Douglas Keay for Woman’s Own (4).
At the time of the interview, in September 1987, Thatcher had just won, with a landslide victory, an exceptional third term in office as British Prime Minister. In other words she knew exactly what she was doing: she wasn’t some greenhorn rookie, she was a seasoned veteran politician. Unusually, her insolent remarks were almost instantly watered-down at the time by officials – but if there’s any evidence that she personally did the watering-down it isn’t easy to find; and the fact that she said it twice suggests she meant exactly what she said.
This denial of the existence of society by one of capitalism’s leading lights is no small matter; because what it suggests is that people are and should be on their own in the world, with no more support than what might be offered by their families or friends or by charity. It suggests that people must sink or swim by themselves. It’s a philosophy whose only difference to the law of the jungle is that it isn’t anywhere near as honest. If the sink or swim philosophy was truly held by the doyens of capitalism – and applied to themselves – an argument for it could indeed be made. But that’s not what happens in the real world – far from it.
Andy Grove (ex-CEO of Intel) echoed Thatcher’s views when he said that the purpose of capitalism was to shoot the wounded (5). He didn’t make clear, however, who could do the shooting and who gets to decide whether someone’s wounded. Other leading champions of capitalism are equally forthcoming in providing evidence for the inherent evil of the system that enriches them. Consider for example millionaire heiress Leona Helmsley who infamously pointed out that “Only the little people pay taxes” (6), or billionaire Warren Buffet who admitted that his cleaner paid more taxes (as a proportion of her salary) than he did (7).
The fact that governments not only allow non-payment of taxes by multi-millionaires but actively encourage it, whilst providing ruthless official enforcers to ensure that ordinary working people don’t neglect to pay their taxes, is just one example of the sink or swim hypocrisy of the capitalists. Sink or swim is not a policy that’s applied to the super-rich. As far as the super-rich are concerned the one and only purpose of government is to ensure they never sink. Ms Helmsley might have said with equal accuracy that laws in general (not just tax laws) are only meant for little people. If that view seems unjustly harsh or cynical consider the case in 2012 where the British banking giant HSBC reached a settlement with US Attorney General Lanny Breuer whereby the bank escaped criminal prosecution for committing massive financial crimes. According to journalist Matt Taibbi,
“HSBC admitted to laundering billions of dollars for Colombian and Mexican drug cartels (among others) and violating a host of important banking laws (from the Bank Secrecy Act to the Trading With the Enemy Act)” (8)
The settlement reached by the bank looks, at first glance, like a severe punishment, as it agreed to pay what is effectively a fine of $1.9 billion. However, as Taibbi points out, this represents a mere 5 weeks of income for the bank. Furthermore, as anyone knows who followed the shameful story of Enron and the Exxon Valdez, agreeing these settlements with mighty corporations is one thing, getting the cash out of them is quite another. (See Greg Palast’s excellent account of this appalling story.) (9)
Sinking or swimming is the fate of little people – never the super-rich whose only relationship with deep water is via the comfort of luxury yachts. So Thatcher’s denial of the existence of society is actually capitalism’s denial of the right for social justice for the 99% - at the same time as it bends over backwards to place at the disposal of the 1% the earnings and the labour of the 99%.
In other words society, whose very existence is denied by the capitalists but who actually comprise the 99%, obviously cannot expect the capitalists to truly protect their economic interests. So in order to answer the very important question as to who should control the supply of money, the oil of the economy, it should be fairly clear to see that it most certainly should not be the capitalists. That only leaves the state – acting on behalf of the 99%.
There’s absolutely nothing to stop governments printing and circulating their own money without using private banks at all. The only reason it doesn’t happen now is because of the awesome power of the private banking system, which knows full well that the one and only device they have to keep their grip on that awesome power is the traditional right they have to print and circulate money. Take away that power and place it where it belongs – in the hands of a truly democratic government – (which would actually be an easy thing to do) and almost overnight the world would start to become a truly humane place.
I say it’s an easy thing to do. That’s only partly true. Technically it would be very easy; realistically it is not – not through any fault of the principle, but because of the immense power of the elitist vested interests who would move heaven and Earth to stop it happening.
But let’s assume for a moment those powerful vested interests have been silenced and concentrate instead on just the principle of governments printing and circulating their own money, and focus on what might be in the best economic interests of the 99%.
5. EnMo Economics and Money Supply
I should start by pointing out that the idea of governments printing their own money is not an original thought for which I can claim any credit. The lawyer and writer Ellen Brown has long championed the principle, and her thought-provoking book “Web of Debt” should be read by anyone with an interest in this subject; but she too is far from being the first exponent of the idea.
Abraham Lincoln provided an early and spectacular proof for the principle when his government financed the Union’s costs in the American Civil War with debt-free paper money known as “greenbacks”, based on nothing more substantial than the government’s declaration that they would be “legal tender”. So successful was it that Lincoln wanted to introduce it as a permanent monetary policy – but we all know what happened to him before he had the chance to do so.
Ellen Brown, in an excellent essay on the subject, showed how the Canadian government printed its own debt-free money for over thirty years (Web of Debt) – and it worked perfectly well.
Most recently a powerful paper was published by Benes and Kumhof, two IMF economists, which also lends considerable weight to the possibility: IMF.
People new to the idea of governments producing their own debt-free money think, quite naturally, well... if it’s so easy to do why doesn’t everyone do it? The answer lies mostly in the power of the private banking system to control political decision-makers – essentially by bribing them, although the word is obviously given more watered-down publicly-acceptable names such as “lobbying” or “donating”. The cynicism is such that bribes are paid almost equally to both competing parties in the two-horse race that passes for western democracy. Writer and one-time managing director at Goldman Sachs Nomi Prins explains:
“The amount of clout the financial sector wields in Washington can’t be underestimated. The FIRE (financial, insurance and real estate) sector tops the list of contributions to Washington every year. It has donated over $1.3billion since 1990 [to 2004], 57% to Republicans and 43% to Democrats. During the three election cycles that spanned 1998 through 2002, the ratio tilted toward the GOP [Republican Party], who received 60% of FIRE’s political funds. Goldman Sachs led contributions in the securities and investment subcategory in seven out of eight election cycles. It forked over $7million in donations during the 2002 and 2004 election cycles and had doled out a grand total of $17million since 1990. The only year Goldman placed second in its category was 1994, when it gave $957,045, just second behind Merrill Lynch’s $1.3million.” (10)
Why do banks “donate” such serious money to politicians? Out of their love for democracy – given that there are few systems more secretive and plutocratic than the murky world of private banking? Or do they do it so that politicians will do what’s best for the 99%? I don’t think so. And what does it say about the ethical values of political leaders who routinely accept such bribes for the benefit of their parties, and to the detriment of their countries? (These giant banks and corporations are helped to “avoid” taxes on their massive profits through the laws made by politicians they bribe.)
So because our political decision-makers are so dependent on the bankers for their election financing they’re obviously reluctant to do anything that might be frowned upon by the bankers – and stripping bankers of their monopoly right to control money supply would very definitely be frowned upon.
The other concern that might be voiced by those new to the idea of governments printing their own money is inflation. This is a reasonable concern, but it’s not necessarily as calamitous as the bankers would have us believe. The most important thing as far as government and inflation is concerned is to ensure that the supply and price of essential goods and services is closely controlled. If people can get essentials quite easily the prices of luxury goods and services can do what they like – and they’re unlikely to do very much if the supply and prices of essentials are controlled.
There is another significant reason why governments have not assumed for themselves the responsibility for controlling money supply (although the power of the bankers is the main problem). This reason is that governments have not yet devised a practical monetary system whose core purpose is to serve the people – not because of the difficulty in doing so, but because of the power of the banker puppet-masters. Previous and existing monetary systems are intended to serve the super-rich, not the 99%. Previous systems used precious metals upon which paper money could be based; existing systems use debt. Both debt management and precious metals can be concentrated into the hands of the bankers, which gives them full control of the supply of money.
There’s something else upon which money supply could be based, something which has been identified as the core source of wealth for a very long time: human labour. An equitable system of money supply based on human labour has never gained traction not because of any flaw in the idea, or because of any particular difficulty in devising such a system, but because it would give control of money supply to ordinary people, as the ultimate owners of labour; and that would never do.
At the very heart of EnMo's monetary theory is this principle:
MONEY IS A HUMAN RIGHT.
Because nowhere on Earth actually uses EnMo Economics yet, what follows is necessarily a thought experiment. So let’s begin by imagining a country; let’s call it A1. The government of A1 is a real democracy i.e. one where the people, PROPERLY INFORMED, have real decision-making power – it’s a twenty-first century advance on the old Swiss model, which was about the best model of government that existed until A1 came along. A1’s government isn’t owned outright by bankers and corporations, and its first duty is to value the interests of the 99% above those of the 1%. In short, it’s the very opposite of what we have.
In A1 the state has a duty to ensure that all citizens have enough of everything they need: nourishing food, clean water, good clothing, safe housing, security, justice, healthcare, education, power, communications, public transport... etc. In return the citizen is expected either to pay taxes or to contribute some of their labour towards providing those goods and services, or a bit of both. The amount of labour provided by the citizen in exchange for a comfortable and secure life is rarely onerous, seldom more than twenty hours a week. This leaves the citizen plenty of time to do other things if she chooses to – further education perhaps, or to work for herself or for others if she wants more money, or to work more hours for the state on a voluntary basis, or to just relax with her family and friends. It’s her time; she can do whatever she wants with it.
The state is always able to provide for the citizen and pay for the labour of anyone who wants to work because the state itself produces and manages whatever money it needs for essential goods and services, and it administers the labour of those who provide those goods and services. It’s a very simple relationship: the state will provide everything the citizen needs for a safe and comfortable life in exchange for some of the citizen’s labour – seldom more than 20 hours a week.
A1 also has a healthy private sector. For although the state provides anything the citizen really needs in order to have a healthy, well-informed, comfortable and happy life, it does so without any frills. It provides good and plentiful vegan food say, but very little in the way of animal products. So the private sector, properly regulated by the state, is able to supply foods based on animal products for those who want them, at whatever profit it can make. The state supplies good housing for anyone who needs it, but it’s fairly basic housing intended only to be safe, clean, peaceful and comfortable – like that of an army camp, say. The private sector, properly regulated by the state, is able to provide a range of alternative accommodation for whatever profit it can make... and so on. The state ensures there is enough of everything the citizen needs; the private sector may provide for those who want more.
The state manages a network of communes which provides the main interface between the state and the citizen. A commune contains whatever administration offices and other facilities are needed to provide a full range of public services in any particular area. So communes might have police, fire and ambulance stations say, a public bank, schools, clinics, arable farms and market gardens, public works buildings and small industrial units as well as public housing facilities, communal kitchens, parks and recreation grounds etc – not very different to a large kibbutz in Occupied Palestine, say.
Outside of the communes the private sector, properly regulated by the state, operates farms, industrial units, shopping malls, private banks and whatever else in the way of non-essential goods and services that are not supplied by the state, for whatever profit it can make.
The state creates and supplies whatever money it needs, in whatever form, in order to maintain its operations by using a network of public banks. The money is based on human labour; in other words it is only produced when it is to be used to pay for human beings to do some sort of work for the public sector. The money is legal tender anywhere in the country and the private sector is obliged to accept it on conditions determined by the state; but the private sector may also use other currencies if it chooses to do so. Private banks are free to operate just like any other private business, but just like any other private business they too are properly regulated by the state.
The money created by the state in A1 is based on units of labour. The standard unit is called a Local Monetary Unit, or LMU for short. LMUs are produced annually with a specific “batch” number. Each “batch” is only valid for ten years, after which time it becomes worthless. LMUs of one “batch” cannot be used to buy LMUs of another “batch”, so cannot be usefully accumulated for more than ten years. Those with surplus LMUs who want to save must do so by using their LMUs to buy some form of long-term investment. The purpose of producing money with an expiry date is to reduce the effects of inflation.
Anyone working in the public sector is paid at the rate of 5LMUs an hour, no matter what the work is, and the quantity of LMUs produced by the state depends on the number of people working in the public services. LMUs are legal tender anywhere in A1 and any private business is obliged to accept them at rates determined by the state. Payments to public servants are in addition to some other free goods and services – such as free vegan meals in communal kitchens, say, free healthcare and education, basic housing, free local public transport... and so on. The state guarantees to provide at least 20 hours of work a week in one of the public services to anyone who needs work, and the 100LMUs a week that could thus be earned is equivalent to someone working 20 hours a week in the private sector at the minimum wage. All school leavers are obliged to work in the public sector for one year after leaving school, and those who go to university are obliged to work for two years in the public sector after completing their degrees. Young people may of course continue working in the public sector, after their period of public service duty, if they choose to do so.
The private sector is also able to use LMUs as a standard currency - but in addition is free to trade in the global currency, the International Monetary Unit (IMU) – see next section.
Although the first economic duty of every country is obviously to provide for the economic security of its own citizens, it may also take advantage of the labour of the visiting citizens of other countries – if those citizens want to provide their labour. Citizens of other countries may therefore take up temporary residence in communes and enjoy the same free essential goods and services of the people who permanently live there – providing the visitors work for the commune for at least 20 hours a week. Therefore it’s possible for people to move all around the world, at no great expense, simply by stopping from time to time to work in different communes and travelling from place to place on public transport. (A similar model has long been in use on a smaller scale in the kibbutzim of Occupied Palestine.)
6. The Bigger Picture and the IMU
We must now take account of one other very important consideration: foreign trade.
If France had been left alone to find its own way immediately after the French Revolution “The Terror” would not have happened and Napoleon would not have been necessary. The world would have developed into a very different place - quite possibly World War One would not have happened, which means Adolf Hitler would never have been heard of.
But France was not left alone to find its own way. For Europe’s 1% the horrific possibility of economic justice breaking out in their own countries mingled with the heady smell of possible plunder in a weakened, vulnerable France was too irresistible an opportunity for them to miss. “The Terror” and Napoleon became almost inevitable because of the interference of foreign elites after the revolution and the rest, as they say, is history.
So too after the Russian Revolution. If the Russians had been left alone to work out how their new regime might work the world would have evolved in a very different way. But once again the interfering 1% in foreign countries, terrified of the prospect that the oppressed 99% of their own populations might get ideas, were having none of it. From its very earliest days Russian socialism, with its scary possibility of economic justice for the 99%, was the avowed enemy of western elites. It had to go.
Quite apart from the military assaults that were hurled by western elites against post-revolutionary France and post-revolutionary Russia, there was the added complication of economic isolation – the trade embargoes and international banking restrictions imposed by foreign elites.
The further and more recent examples of crippling trade sanctions against Cuba and North Korea, for example, prove the point. Here are two countries who resisted imperial capitalism, and fought-off foreign invasions in order to do so. But there was no way capitalism was going to accept defeat, so the capitalist countries enforced vicious trade embargoes and financial restrictions on both countries that have lasted over half a century, and still continue to this day. Today the west likes to sneer at the struggling economies of both these tiny countries and claim their apparent poverty is because of the socialist economic model they choose to use; and the capitalists cynically exploit the suffering of those countries – which the west has created – for propaganda purposes. They never remind anyone of the fact that North Korea and Cuba have to endure devastating trade embargoes and financial restrictions; they never speculate as to the condition of western countries if they too were forbidden to trade with anyone.
In other words, it’s essential that countries are allowed to trade with each other if they wish to do so. For many centuries the powerful nations have always consolidated their power by controlling how other nations trade. This has always, always resulted in the impoverishment of the weak nations and the obscene enrichment of tiny handfuls of elites in the controlling nations. This is the basic story of empire. It is thousands of years old, and is still very much alive and well.
So we need now to take our thought experiment one stage further and visualise a global model based on EnMo Economics.
In this model the world comprises many countries whose governments are very similar to that of A1 – i.e. directly controlled by the people of that country, PROPERLY INFORMED. Any two countries who wish to trade with each other have an inviolable right to do so. Because all countries are similarly administered there is no need for tightly controlled borders, and people, together with lawful goods and services can move without restrictions between countries – just the way that people and goods can move freely between different cantons in Switzerland say, or different counties in England.
Each country has its own LMU and each country administers its own currency in its own way. These local currencies are specific to the country that produces them, so are not legal tender in other countries, and cannot be traded between private banks in different countries.
Essential trade within the global economy is administered by a central body called the Centre for Global Trade and Banking (CGTB), which is itself administered and controlled by the General Assembly of the United Nations. Its primary purpose is to ensure that any member country of the United Nations may be able to trade freely for essential goods and services with any other member country. So in addition to every country producing its own local currency there is also a global currency produced by the CGTB. It’s called the International Monetary Unit (IMU). Like the LMU it too is not directly based on any tradable commodity, and like the LMU it too has an expiry date (of twenty years after production), and is also linked to human labour – the quantity provided being dependent on the quantity of labour it needs to pay for. The IMU is recognised as legal tender anywhere in the world (recall that our existing monetary system is based on nothing at all).
Each year every country in the world may automatically receive a standard allocation of IMUs from the CGTB. The main purpose of IMUs is to enable countries to purchase essential goods or services (but they may also be used for some non-essentials, such as helping people to travel from one country to another), and the quantity of IMUs each country receives depends upon the size of its population and what it actually needs. So if country D7 say, exports more essential goods and services than it imports it would have a trade surplus of IMUs and might not need any more of them from the CGTB; but if country P3 imports more essential goods than it can export it only needs to ask for more and it will automatically receive an allocation based on the number of people living there and the quantity of essentials it needs for the following year.
IMUs are not loans, so never need to be repaid. They are simply monetary instruments whose primary purpose is to ensure that no country ever need be without essential goods or services; and any country has a right to receive a reasonable allocation of them from the CGTB, based on what it actually needs.
Non-essential goods and services – such as luxury goods – are traded using currencies produced by private banks, as well as LMUs – as all businesses are obliged to accept the LMUs produced by their own government at rates determined by that government.
Trade in firearms is very tightly controlled, nationally and internationally, and they are used mainly for sport and recreational reasons. Weapons of war and war machines are no longer produced anywhere. Since war disappeared only the United Nations is allowed to maintain a small, lightly militarised police force which can only be deployed by a mandate from the General Assembly. (The old “Security Council” no longer exists, and no country has the power to veto a General Assembly mandate.)
Any citizen may accumulate and save LMUs and IMUs (although the "batch" expiry date is obviously a significant factor to be taken into account); and state banks may trade IMUs for their own LMUs such that no private business is ever out of pocket for selling luxury items for LMUs. The state’s public banks may also exchange modest quantities of IMUs for the LMUs of its citizens (for the purpose of travel, say, or to purchase something made in another country). Private businesses and individuals who work solely in the private sector pay tax in LMUs, IMUs or a mixture of both.
Private banks are regulated just like any other private business by the country where they operate, as well as the CGTB, but are deemed a non-essential service and are therefore not otherwise supported or underwritten by the CGTB or the state where they operate. The CGTB broadly defines what are essential goods and services.
These then are the essential features of the EnMo Economic system. However, there is one other very important topic to discuss – something that’s not only very relevant to the global economy, but is also essential to the long-term health and well-being of the entire planet.
No discussion on the subject of Enough and More could be complete with consideration of possibly the most important issue of all, even more important than the subject of money. I refer of course to human overpopulation.
It’s difficult to say what point in time the earth became overpopulated with human beings, but the fact is that it is overpopulated, and this problem is arguably the most important single issue facing the planet today. I went to a lecture about forty years ago (in the 1970s) when overpopulation was identified as a serious problem. Nothing has been done – apart from in China – and today the global population of human beings is about double what it was in the 1970s.
We should start by defining “overpopulation”. Like so many words there are various definitions that could be used, depending on the point of view that wants to be promoted. The point of view being promoted in this essay is what might be the best for the 99%, which is a very different perspective from the prevailing one – that which protects the interests of the 1%.
As far as the 99% are concerned, overpopulation must surely mean the point in time when a particular area is no longer capable of supplying the essentials for comfortable human existence without causing complete exhaustion of natural resources in that area, and or the destruction of its existing fauna and flora. In other words when a particular area can no longer supply enough food or water or fuel, say, for the humans living there it has become overpopulated. When a society is no longer capable of providing full self-sufficiency in essential goods and services, it has too many people. This has of course happened continuously throughout the evolution of mankind, and people dealt with it in the past by simply moving to some unpopulated place and starting a new colony, or by joining, destroying or ousting a group of people already established there.
The point in history when free movement no longer became an option because there were no habitable unpopulated places left anywhere on Earth, together with the carving up of the planet into nation-states thus making the free movement of people impossible, was probably the point in time when the planet as a whole became overpopulated. In other words, sometime between the 1500s and 1800s was possibly it – the moment in time when the Earth had more than enough human beings.
Continual population growth doesn’t help the 99% one jot; it is, however, absolutely essential to the cause of the 1%. The core underpinning value of the 1%’s economic policy is now, and always has been, MORE. For the 1% there is never ENOUGH. As big business is legally mandated to maximise profit – not simply to make enough profit to cover costs - the word “growth” is forever on the lips of the economic gurus of the 1%. But the fact is that continual “growth” on a planet with finite resources is obviously not possible without eventually destroying the planet (Easter Island, once a lush and self-sufficient place is a fine and salutary example of the danger of human overpopulation; a similar Armageddon to Easter Island is happening right now in Madagascar.) As far as the 1% are concerned, however, that key word “eventually” is all that matters. The planet won’t be destroyed this year, or next year, or possibly within the next 10 years; therefore profits are not yet imperiled; therefore there is no problem: “growth” must be continued.
So because “growth” is so vitally important to the 1% it’s clear to see that, for them, human population must also continue growing. A growing human population satisfies two vital components of the 1%’s economic model: it guarantees a permanent source of slave labour, and it guarantees a growing supply of consumers. Mission accomplished.
But if we look at the economic argument through the eyes of the 99% we cannot find any logical reason for continual population growth. Providing people have enough of everything they need, increasing the human population isn’t going to make their lives any better. In fact it usually makes things worse, for there’s more competition for space and resources. This is what routinely produces xenophobia when communities are suddenly swamped with mass immigration – which is itself often produced by the engineered wars of the 1%.
And of course if we view the subject from the point of view of the planet as a whole we can find absolutely no benefit in a permanently expanding human population. Many parts of the Earth are already suffering from chronic water shortages, vast swathes of the oceans are over-fished to the point where some previously common species are now all but extinct, and jungle is being permanently eradicated everywhere, together with the fragile creatures and plants whose very existence depends on their environment. None of this is because of natural phenomena – such as earthquakes, global warming or comet impacts. It’s all due to human overpopulation.
It must be stopped.
It need not be a difficult thing to do. The Chinese recognised the problem over fifty years ago, and introduced their one-child policy to deal with it – and China is not even the most densely populated country on the planet – far from it. England, for example, has about 389 people/sq km, which is more than twice China’s 141 people/sq km. Today however, as China’s 1% become ever stronger, the government is under increasing pressure to “relax” their policy on population control. The excuse that’s being touted by the agents of the 1% is the usual one: that China has a growing elderly population which cannot be supported by the relatively small numbers of young people. Rubbish. The elderly population is indeed growing – like the rest of the population - but mostly the elderly need very little support, and the suggestion that China’s economy cannot support their own elderly people is complete nonsense. No doubt the real reason for lobbying for “relaxation” of the one-child policy is that there are fears the numbers of slaves and consumers are dwindling, which will of course severely impact maximum profit margins. That would never do.
The corporate giants who rule the planet are not unaware of the situation: the people who run them are not stupid. However, they do incredibly evil things, and behave like psychopaths, as writer and law professor Joel Bakan says in his excellent book “The Corporation”. It is not beyond the realms of possibility that when human numbers become a particular problem in some part of the world, i.e. adversely affecting profits, the numbers would be “managed” through deliberately manufactured wars and or disease epidemics. Corporations have been managing wars and slaughtering innocents in their millions in order to increase their profits for over two hundred years – why not start an epidemic or two if it achieves the same ends at less expense?
The corporate way of population control is obviously unacceptable – like anything else these monstrous organisations do. Perfectly humane alternatives are more than possible. The Chinese example was pretty good, but not especially humane. A one-child policy applied globally would obviously reduce the human population; but it needn’t be that severe: teaching people the wisdom of encouraging women to have no more than two children would work just as well, and be better supported. It would enable people to have more of a family life than is possible with the one-child policy, and it would still slowly reduce human population.
If every woman on the planet had no more than two healthy children who then grew into healthy adults the human population would remain constant. But of course some women either can’t or don’t want to have any children at all, or are content to have just one. Sometimes children don’t make it to adulthood. So because of these limiting factors it can be seen that a two-child policy would be sufficient to gradually, and relatively painlessly, reduce human population.
This is something that must never be forcibly regulated i.e through forced sterilisations or abortions. It should be achieved through education – by simply explaining the importance of it. Of course some women will nevertheless have more than two children. This is not necessarily a bad thing – in situations where children die, for example: the mother should be able to have another child if she wants to. Women who deliberately choose to ignore the principle of having only two healthy children are likely to be few in number – especially if they are properly informed about the reasons for the principle. For those few who do ignore it the consequences should never be taken out on the child, who must always be as welcomed and accepted by society as any other child. But there would be nothing wrong in having strong disincentives in place for such mothers – such as requiring them to work significantly more, for a longer period of time, or pay significantly more taxes.
But education is the most important factor here. If people are simply given good information they will invariably make good decisions. All that’s needed is for people to understand this vitally important subject of overpopulation, and they will surely do the right thing. People simply need to learn how their families are cynically exploited in order to enrich the 1%, and to learn how overpopulation is destroying the planet, and they will surely do the right thing. All that’s needed is for women to learn that having more than two children plays into the hands of the 1%, and is never to the advantage of the 99% - and it also contributes to global Armageddon. Surely most mothers will then decide for themselves that two children are quite enough.
EnMo Economics is a perfectly viable economic model which is basically founded on the only real source of wealth that’s ever existed: human labour. In this model anyone who wants to work and is capable of working is able to do so. But they are not obliged to work like slaves for pitiless exploiters of labour – which is what happens in the existing global system. They may instead always find useful work in the public sector where their labour is always welcome to help others in some way or another – they need never again work as slaves just to enrich over-bloated elites with overproduction. Workers may have all their basic needs provided for in exchange for a modest amount of their labour – just twenty hours a week. However, if someone chooses to earn more money they are free to work as many hours as they like wherever they can find extra work. The citizen is therefore able to save money, if she chooses to do so, with which she may purchase luxury goods if that’s what she wants to do, or work for herself, or anything else she wants to spend money on. Hence the economic security of the ordinary citizen is always assured, and any desire they might have for more is also provided for.
As for the private sector, it is still possible to accumulate wealth. However, because in this model the real source of all wealth – human labour – is no longer available for exploitation in vast quantities, and because countries are truly free to develop their own economies and to trade with each other as they see fit (which is NOT the existing situation), the concentration of obscenely rich exploiters of labour is consigned to the scrapheap of history which is, after all, where they belong – given that the fires of hell are not available for us to use.
So it’s plain to see that EnMo Economics combines the best features of socialism and capitalism to provide something that’s as close as we can get to the perfect economic model: anyone anywhere in the world is guaranteed economic security – they always have Enough - and those who want More are able to have it - if they’re prepared to work more; and once the problem of human overpopulation is properly addressed the long-term future of the planet, and its diminishing jungles, wilderness areas and over-fished oceans, will be assured.
9. EnMo Economics – The People’s Summary
1. EnMo Economics is currently just a thought experiment. It assumes the existence of a very different world to the one we have. It imagines a truly democratic world where the people, PROPERLY INFORMED, are in full control of all political decision-making.
2. EnMo stands for Enough and More, the two words which describe the different roles of the public and private sectors in managing the economy. The state ensures that every citizen has Enough in the way of essential goods and services to enjoy a safe and comfortable life, in exchange for a modest amount of the citizen’s labour (no more than 20 hours a week). The state guarantees to offer the citizen a range of employment options, if required to do so - options that are useful to society and or the environment. The private sector may provide for More, in the way of non-essentials and luxury goods for those who want them and who are prepared to work more than 20 hours a week in order to have them.
3. The state controls the creation and administration of whatever debt-free money it needs to run its own services – money known as the Local Monetary Unit (LMU) – by using a network of public banks. The LMU is legal tender anywhere in the state, but not usually outside of it. The value of the LMU is linked to the supply of labour available to the state such that anyone working in the public sector receives 5LMUs per hour. In addition to their pay, any state employee is entitled to various free essential goods and services – such as safe and comfortable housing, vegan food and water, healthcare, education, transport, work clothes etc., many of which may be available in state-run communes. Private businesses are obliged to accept LMUs at rates determined by the state, but they are also able to use other types of currency.
Foreign trade in essential goods and services is facilitated by the use of International Monetary Units (IMU), supplied by the Centre for Global Trade and Banking (CGTB), a division of the UN General Assembly. Every member country has a legal right to trade with any other member country. The CGTB supplies and manages the circulation of IMUs such that the quantity available to any country is dependent on the size of the working population of that country, and the need of that population to trade abroad for essential goods and services (as defined by the CGTB).
Private banks are free to operate just like any other private business, and they may operate other currency systems. But neither the state nor the CGTB supports or underwrites the private banking system, as it is deemed a non-essential service.
4. Each woman is encouraged to have no more than two children. This is not a legal requirement, and some exceptions are understood (such as when a child dies). The purpose is gradually to reduce the size of human population in order to restore the planet’s rapidly-disappearing fauna and flora, and reduce the demand for its diminishing natural resources.
1. “Wealth of Nations” – Adam Smith p. 841
2. Letter to Col. William Elkins 21st November 1864
3. “Wealth of Nations” – Adam Smith p. 525
4. Thatcher (see notes 29 & 30).
5. “The Best Democracy Money Can Buy” – Greg Palast p. 146
10. “Other People’s Money” - Nomi Prins p. 13