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?!!!!