Money 2.0

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Money 2.0
Money 2.0 "Never doubt that a small group of thoughtful, committed citizens can change the world; indeed, it's the only thing that ever has." Margaret Mead The article is a proposal — in the form of some personal reflections and some what-if scenarios, if you will — for the modernisation of money (of its functions), which includes: the complete digitisation of money — of each trans/national currency —, where each monetary unit is both unique and traceable; the introduction into the economy of a parallel value system of, on the one hand, untransmissible personal credits and, on the other, of exchangeable real credits; the use of said credits for the conditioning (in varying/proportional amounts, and excepting from it certain goods and services) — as a prerequisite — of consumption and, in general, of any kind of transfer of money in exchange for goods, services or financial assets. Under this system, societies and economies will be able to evolve towards more just, stable and lasting organising models (albeit varying from culture to culture), without the need for more — or more complex — laws or without the need to implement (more) aggressive governmental policies for the pre/redistribution of wealth; all those policies that we all know — at least in recent times — proved to be so detrimental to our social peace, harmony, stability and generalised wellbeing. Preface This article is about the redesign and modernisation of money, of the functions of money, to be more precise. Not in the sense of making the use of money or transactions easier — we already have electronic money, cryptocurrencies, electronic wallets, mobile electronic payment devices, NFC bank cards —, but to solve most of the problems that today affect and concern, to varying extents, practically all of us: social and economic inequality, inequality of opportunities, corruption, technological disruption, wars, hunger, predatory/crony/destructive/extractive capitalism, increased number of presumed scarcities, artificial monopolies and financial Ponzi schemes, rise of surveillance capitalism, pollution of the environment, unsustainable economic growth and climate change, population aging, exponential growth of population, eroding of the intergenerational contract, tax evasion, drugs and arms trafficking, terrorism and submerged economy, to name but the most socially destructive dysfunctions of money and, in general, of capitalism. In my opinion, a new form of money will be the simplest, safest and most cost-effective way of solving all those problems and others related, instead of promulgating new laws aimed at taxing the rich and/or simply issuing — at a click of a button — new (of the same old) money. If we want to get out of the current self-destructive spiral and evolve, what we need is not more laws, or more specific ones, more competent and less corrupt governments or, above all, more money. What we really need is a new form of money, that is, a new concept of money and of monetary system. We need to start treating money, and the functions thereof, more as a social institution and less as a representation of an economic production value. In a nut shell, the proposal I am making in this publication is centred around the idea that what we need is to democratise, on the one hand, the creation of money, and on the other, the mechanisms that validate the use and exchange of this new created money; focusing predominantly on adding value to earnings/income, instead of assigning numbers to it. We need to first change the money before we change — either by common will or by necessity — everything else in the economy and society that money permeates and condition. The proposal here springs from the concern that the public at large should not expect — the democratic initiative of the citizens vis-à-vis reforming money is long overdue; Bitcoin aside — that the markets solve all, or the most important, security and functionality issues embedded in our daily economic transactions (all, at least, those that involve money). And why should they, if this doesn’t increase in any way their bottom line as profit motivated economic agents? Neither should we expect that governments put in place detailed, complex and up-to-date market regulations, either to stimulate the kind of activities that benefit us all or to correct the social/environmental dysfunctions left behind or put aside by the market; generated mainly by idle capital (uninvested capital during economic crisis) or by misallocated money (or allocated in unproductive and socially toxic activities, despite being profitable) in the economy. Given its utmost importance for us all, our priority should be making the modernisation of money a matter of general concern in the defence of our long-fought human rights and of our most fundamental democratic values. I also argue here that the simple modernisation of money will not be enough to, for example, prevent economic crises, although this isn't by far negligible. The proposed solution is to introduce other measurable values in the monetary system that correct, both the current and the historic dysfunctions of money; the most devastating being the social and environmental ones (in Proposal). The importance of the modernisation of money could be such that humanity will never be the same. Humanity will never have to repeat its past errors, an idea that I support in some arguments that I would like to discuss here. Ideal would be the complete elimination of any type of money, from both the economy and the society, but any future human (social) being who does not need money to manage his needs and to organize his life in society in synergy with nature would have to be — from a moral point of view — substantially superior to the man that he created and to whom he now proudly calls modern and civilized. They will have to first learn how to collaborate, redistribute and, in short, live in harmony with each other, without that abstract reference to money, or to any abstract entity, for that matter. Unfortunately, morality is not part of the human genetic inheritance, each new generation has to work it out and do its best given the social, ideological and technological context in which it exists and evolves. History, Mr Fukuyama, has not reached its end! Each person, group, community or even an entire nation arrives on a given point in time during its development where it has to stop blaming others — or simply bad luck—, face their own conscience and decide what is best for them to solve all their existential problems and evolve, if not to survive. Looking around, I would dare to say that the whole humanity has reached said point. The last economic crisis revealed another one which is much more global and profound, against which it is of little use to create (new) jobs for all: the crisis of conscience. And if we are to agree with Einstein, when he said that "no problem can be solved from the same level of consciousness that created it", anyone could easily conclude that the change of consciousness must precede any other change in the way we socially organise and collectively solve problems. We need to think out of the box and reinvent ourselves; because future, as it stands, is no longer what it used to be. Sceptics, who are not few, are infatuated with the idea that only a natural disaster (or even anthropogenic, like a nuclear holocaust) of global magnitude will change man’s conscience and coerce him into coming together with his own kind. Nothing further from the truth. Modern man has the means and the ability to reinvent himself and metamorphize peacefully without the determinant of an imminent natural cause that comes from without the abstract, nevertheless necessary, social structures he constructs for himself. If we have not succeeded so far, it is because we have neither reached the necessary maturity — both from a scientific and from a technological point of view —, nor have we had the political motivation/awareness to do so. We have been politically very slow — or rather deadlocked — on agreeing, for example, on a convenient and democratic formula able to reconcile both private property and economic power with the common good, including the environment. Taxing is one of them, but until now proved to be highly inefficient, if not counterproductive to both society and the environment. In the previous stages of his evolution, especially during the agrarian revolution and, later, during the industrial one, man already tested his perseverance and ability to overcome the natural order around him, learn to walk and take small evolutionary leaps. Today, having completely revolutionized information processing and communication, we are more prepared than ever to take what will be the greatest evolutionary leap in our history; and save us all the conscious mistakes — especially those that we commit again and again, like wars — that push us to our own demise and to that of the planet, our home — our only home, so far. As Edward O. Wilson eloquently puts it: “We have created a Star Wars civilisation with Stone Age emotions, medieval institutions and godlike technology”. If you asked me, this is an unstable and explosive combination waiting to burst somewhere, sometime with unexpected and irreversible consequences for all of us and for the environment. My claim is that the redesign of money is the key element to guarantee a successful exit of mankind from the current intensive and exponential evolutionary process that, for most of us, seems to go uncontrollably off the rails. Since money is information, we will have to start with the establishment of new information processing rules, procedures, protocols and systems. Rules and protocols that apply to all the information we generate that is both socially and economically relevant. Rules that are applied equally and is beneficial to all of us (not only to the jealous and greedy "guardians" of it). The form of money man has been using so far has managed to get the worst out of him and, it is safe to say, it is inexorably pushing him towards his self-destruction. Despite its reputation as a universal economic panacea, in reality money mainly serves today, paradoxically, to solve problems that the same money has been generating and accumulating since its inception and acceptance, both in the economies and in the consciences of its users. Money is the root of all evil, we hear this all the time. This is mainly due to its partially inadequate design and its misallocation in the economy at the expense of basic social/environmental needs or requirements — all those added dysfunctions that money has inherited from those before us that created and used it. All this happens not because money has something in it that makes it inherently evil, but because we use it in a way that makes it so. Today we no longer have any excuse to continue using money in a way that, despite its clear counterproductive effects on society, economy and environment, we keep preaching, implicitly or explicitly, as set in stone. Money, as societies do, need to evolve and adapt to the socio-economical needs of the people that transact with it. I would also say here that to me modernisation has to go far beyond a simple improvement in the use or in the functionality of money within trade, finances and economic policies. The most important function of money needs to fulfil is moralising and integrating communities, along with preserving the environment. But this new money, as I see it, it should only have a temporary and instrumental role, and act as a moral catalyst in a transition process towards societies that don’t need any kind of money, towards a resource-based economy where enlightened men don’t have to measure all that matters to them and put a tag price on it. This may seem utopian now, however, I venture to say that a new money has the potential to radically change our deepest and more entrenched social ties and values. This new social structure with its renewed operating rules will have to accommodate and make the institution of money useful and not vice versa. More about how I see this new concept of money and why do I think it will be our currency of change (of conscience) can be discovered in the following lines, always keeping in mind that my reflections are only one among a myriad of other perspectives and theories around the social and evolutionary functions of money. If I had to summarise it, the proposed solution gravitates predominantly around, on the one hand, information technologies and, on the other, the social/democratic awareness of the need to implement it. It allows thus itself to skip the need to found its soundness and usefulness in past ideological, political or theoretical predicates. After all, nobody has a PhD in things yet to be invented and tried out! I invite the reader to consider this article as a laboratory for testing new ideas, to which s/he is welcome to make any comments — refuting or supporting them — and be part of an intellectual adventure. Moreover, I will preferably value more any constructive criticism, or any idea that will make me doubt of my own, than the approval or confirmation thereof...  (Continued in the attached document)

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1 October 2021 at 10:17 am EDT Ciprian Galaon