How Interest-ed Are You?

Zero  or negative Interest? Are you serious?!!!

Well, yes, I guess I am, and I’m calling it investing. Investing in a future worth having.

Last time I wrote about how a market economy is dependent on over-production, over-consumption and taking advantage of the disadvantaged through interest-bearing debt. The solution to interest-bearing debt, says Charles Eisenstein, is to foster situations where there is, at most, a zero percent interest paid on loans and investments, but preferably a negative interest.The exception to this would be investments that restore the well-being of the commonwealth. (As you may or may not recall, the commonwealth is exactly what it says it is: the wealth we as humans hold in common–i.e., that which once belonged to everyone: clean air and water, ideas–now termed “intellectual property,” free use of land,..) In simple terms, if money is just sitting in a “savings” account or is invested in an industry or service that promotes over-production and over-consumption, it, at best, earns no interest, but ideally the interest would be negative–which is the same as saying the principle diminishes at a percentage rate equivalent to what was once earned in interest.

How in this world can that ever happen? Because, you know, although there are probably some rich and powerful people out there who would be willing to support this simply because they are evolved human beings, most of the rich and powerful are pretty happy with the system as is. (And I’ve even seen some of the evolved get really excited now that the stock market is higher than before the recession of 2008.)

OK, say you are not one of the rich and powerful, so what could YOU possibly do to change the way the economy functions anyway? First, consider this quote by Margaret Mead: “Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world.  Indeed, it is the only thing that ever has,” And if you agree, here’s how you can start: stop buying things you don’t need, and share what you already have. For example, not every household needs its own lawn mower. Start a lend-and-borrow center, or set up a community website where items for sharing are listed. This also helps people meet others in their neighborhood, which promotes a sense of community vs. feelings of separateness and mistrust, not to mention cutting back on the pollution created by the roar of a thousand mowers. Secondly, if you have extra money, consider gifting it to a person in need or, if there is an opportunity, invest it in the commonwealth at a lower percentage than you might make on a for-profit venture. And finally, discuss these understandings with others. If we raise the consciousness, and consequently the habits of the masses, we can change the world!

Oh yeah, and if you just happen to be one of the evolved well-to-do, set a good example by gifting it to those in need, or invest in the commonwealth. Incidentally, Eisenstein is in favor of visible giving vs. anonymity because it inspires others to be generous as well, otherwise known as paying it forward. This is why I am now going to make a brief plug for a non-profit set up by my own family, Just Heart Foundation. It’s a charity that satisfies several sacred economics criteria: specifically it addresses the financial needs of parents who have a child with an unexpected medical crisis. Because of the crisis, these middle-class parents are having to switch from either living paycheck-to-paycheck or from saving to borrowing with interest. Just Heart also encourages recipients to “pay it forward” financially and in other ways once the crisis has subsided. We have so many heart (no pun intended!)-warming stories of how excited people are to be of service to others simply because we helped them when they needed it. I believe that if the circumstances are right, most people do want to be loving and generous. It is feelings of separation and a fear of not being able to survive that feeds a system based on greed.

When all of us do what we can according to our circumstances, we create communities where people care about each other, and everyone wins.

Next time: But what about those jerks that always abuse the generosity of others?!!!!





6 thoughts on “How Interest-ed Are You?

  1. Helen Halton

    Interesting concepts! We have been on both sides of the spectrum, and have helped a lot of people this past year. At the moment, we are back on the negative side of the scale (very temporarily!) and have learned that you come out better to just regard any money you “lend” to be a gift, and count on the Universe to repay you from some other source. We are finding that this works better, and we can let go of the need to get any money back, and just be open to abundance flowing to us from wherever! I do believe that being generous is the way to live.

  2. jkwinters Post author

    Stay tuned regarding gifting vs. lending. There are ways to figure out when to give and when not to give.

  3. Debbie Unterman

    I’ve always appreciated your generosity of Spirit and everything else. Nice article. I’m such an advocate of some kind of barter system or cashless society. If work was play for people we’d all be glad to give what we’ve got. Some would cook, some would grow food, some would build or fix things, etc. And we’d all eat and be housed. But some people want more and don’t care if others have or not. I do believe the concept of paying it forward has caught on so much that the trajectory is changing – look how long ago that movie came out and how that phrase has now become a part of our conversation and collective consciousness. Keep up the good work with your writing and your non-profit.

    1. jkwinters Post author

      Debbie, I’m so pleased you took the time to be involved in this discussion because the concepts are so important to our future. Eisenstein has some interesting commentary on bartering. First, he says it never really was a major part of money history, but more important, bartering is very different than gifting. Whereas bartering is a calculated exchange, gifting is about giving something you have in surplus, whether it be money or something else, to someone who needs it. Bartering is based on a calculation of value; gifting comes from generosity of spirit.(This is not to say, of course, that bartering is bad. It certainly encourages community, which Eisenstein says is so lacking these days.) Paying it forward is one of the grandest aspects of a gift economy. As for a cashless society, he thinks it’s probably never going to happen in a complex global society, though it can definitely be a part of local communities.

  4. Lisa

    I am enthralled with the idea of negative interest. Money is the only thing that never decays (according to Eisenstein, and I can’t think of anything else, can you?) But negative interest makes $ more “organic. If you have 5 loaves of bread and can only eat 2 before they go bad, you could give away 3 to people who need bread. Incentivizes sharing. Same with $. if you have so much that it’s sitting in banks…..and it LOSES value doing that………..why not give it to those in need.

    I’d sure like to hear the “anti” side of this comment, because I can’t think of a downside, but there probably is one/some.

    1. jkwinters Post author

      Lisa, I have a limited understanding of economics, but my thought is that since money is an artificial commodity, it is up to us to decide if it decays or not. The way it is presently set up, it can only grow, but if we decide to implement negative interest, it will decay.


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