Debt - what's the problem?
By Mike Zeidler
Today’s FT headline is ‘Britain braces for debt storm’ following yesterday’s prediction by George Osborne that borrowing costs are going to rise dramatically. The talk of the town is all about GROWTH.
There’s a strong logic to the idea that we MUST have growth in order to pay debts, but it’s a great example of impeccable logic that’s madly wrong. Growth doesn’t eliminate debt, and a system of debt is mathematically certain to concentrate wealth, increase inequality and ultimately promote unhappiness for the majority. Prof Jem Bendell puts it simply in his TEDx Talk on ‘The Money Myth’. When we talk about the problem of debt, we need to talk about the idea of debt rather than the amounts that people are owed.
The financial establishment is built on a fundamental belief in debt, which forms the central idea on which all other assumptions are placed. This makes it spectacularly difficult for people ‘on the inside’ to see that they are trapped - they have no notion that there is another world beyond their imagining. Einstein’s pithy observation that ‘one cannot alter a condition with the same mindset that created it’ applies here in spades.
We think monetary reform is on its way. It will be shocking to those in the establishment who couldn’t imagine it and will provoke misguided debate wherever it’s seen as a financial issue alone. Certainly we need to understand the workings of the money system, which is nothing like as complicated as we’re led to believe – the animated story of Money as Debt is a great place to start.
Our hope and belief is that we are riding the first gentle waves of a second ‘enlightenment’ – a great reform of values and ideas that re-connects us with the reality of nature, and how we need to be together in order to find true prosperity. The Happy City Initiative is based on several ideas with the power to help us scramble out of our current box and into new possibilities for the future.
These ideas are all ways of understanding things which allow us to interpret what’s going on differently. Systems Thinking, Solutions Focus and Appreciative Inquiry are all approaches which make a profound difference to the way we deal with great challenges like poverty, environmental impact and conflict. Combined together, these strands of thinking are transformative.
What’s so encouraging, even in the midst of today’s strike action, is that these transformative ways of thinking are in use all around us, and they’re spreading fast. Whilst the finance ministers are locked into an ‘old’ way of thinking which offers no hope of salvation, there are increasing numbers of people giving credence to alternative points of view.
Our role at Happy City is both to promote the learning in these new perspectives and to celebrate their achievements. We’ll write something simple about systems, solutions and appreciation next time. If you have a contribution to make along these lines, please send it to email@example.com