Monthly Archives: January 2011

A World Without Debt

“Forgive us our debts, as we forgive our debtors.” – Jesus

Many people have argued about the causes of the evils that society now faces. Some people blame money as the culprit. The Bible seems to confirm this with the words, “The love of money is the root of all evil.”

However, is it money which causes our evil? Or could it be something so closely connected to money that we often find it impossible to separate the two?

Could it be that debt is a major contributor to all the evil in the world?

We consider the concept of a debtless society and intend to begin the conversation about what systems we can implement to eliminate the slavery which debt represents.

Here are some reasons why debt is a bad idea:

  • No aboriginal societies (that have run successfully for thousands of years) have had debt-based monetary systems.
  • Debt systems require enFORCEment to work
  • The concept of debt fundamentally cuts us off from our basic needs
  • Debt encourages hoarding which encourages starvation and war
  • Debt pressures us to live in the PAST or the FUTURE instead of the PRESENT

1.     No aboriginal societies (that have run successfully for thousands of years) have had debt-based monetary systems.

Aboriginal societies have at times possessed some kind of value exchange, such as beads or blankets, etc. Some people say that this “money” is proof that their society is similar to our society.

Nothing could be further from the truth.

While many aboriginal societies have some form of exchange, they do not have anything which serves the purpose of our modern money, be that gold coins from ages past or the current debt-based fiat monetary systems.

Most of them have virtually no concept of private ownership (which will be discussed in a later essay).

No bushman can obtain a mortgage within his own society. In other words, it is impossible to go into debt for any significant period of time in these societies. The concept of monthly payments including compound interest stretched over as long as 30 years is as foreign to them as eating grubs would be to most of us (not only because their conception of the calendar and the structure of time is so much different from ours).

The functioning of these societies has been much more in harmony with the environment, much less devastating to his physical health, and provided a much higher level of happiness than almost all of us in the Western world enjoy.

For this reason alone, we should consider and compare their systems with ours for the purpose of learning what we can change to make ourselves happier, healthier, and more in tune with our environment.

2. Debt systems require enFORCEment to work

Debt systems can only work through contracts which can be enforced. This means that, if someone agrees to pay at a future date and does not do so, then there must be a police force which is able to force the payment of that debt in some way.

This force is a form of violence and is absolutely necessary if debts exist. Otherwise, they cannot be collected at a future time.

As a side note, most (if not all) aboriginal societies do not have a specialized military or police force, though they have various methods of community-based conflict resolution.

3.     The concept of debt cuts us off from our basic needs.

Perhaps the most important, though not immediately obvious reason we should consider a world without debt is because debt is a system which is used to cut us off from our basic needs.

By definition, you can only loan out that what you don’t need at this moment. The person who receives the loan, however, needs the money to fulfill a desire, wish, want, or need right now.

Every person who has ever loaned out money is aware that there was a significant chance that she would never get that money back again. Therefore, she agreed at that moment that she could live without these funds indefinitely, perhaps forever.

In other words, the person who doesn’t need the money now always loans to the person who does.

The person who loaned hopes that the repayment will come in the future when it is needed or wanted.

Thus, debt places an extreme emphasis on the future at the expense of the present and thus creates mental suffering based upon the concept that he is ‘trapped’ today because of decisions made ‘yesterday’, as every debtor knows.

The lender, however, is thinking about the future repayment of the debt, which creates a disequal relationship with the borrower and remotes the lender from the experience of the present.

4.     Debt encourages hoarding and thus promotes both starvation and war.

In a world with debt, where many are harboring fantasies or living realities of simply living off of interest or investment income, there is a lot of pressure to accumulate many of these types of assets in order to have enough people who ‘owe us’ enough for our security in old age.

However, we do not actively use much of what we own if this is the case. As previously stated, it was excess for us at the time we gained ownership of it (apartment buildings which we do not live in or lands which we do not live on) and thus we extract interest or rent from those who are using that which is ‘ours’.

The concept of the fallacy of ownership—which is simply a conceptual model that some portion of those with political or police powers within a society agree that you have the right to use or profit from a certain object—will be treated in more depth in another article.

However, by society allowing ownership of that which we no longer ‘use’ (which is what debt is) fosters a system in which a few have the most (see the 1% that own 40% of US wealth) and most have virtually nothing.

Those who feel connected to this system will thus spend a massive amount of their time and energy amassing more wealth which can be used to generate even more wealth through investment, instead of doing those things to cause the greatest happiness for themselves in this current moment. This is the pitfall of our current belief system.

But how much is enough? If you are connected to your future instead of current needs, it is difficult to tell how much money or income will be sufficient, as no one knows the future. Therefore, how much money I ‘might need’ can be virtually infinite. This is why many people ruin health, quality relationships, the environment, and other humans in this breakneck search for ever more wealth.

This process of amassing ever greater luxury and wealth through existing money is referred to in the Bible as “trusting in riches”.

Once people have accepted the principle of private ownership, money, and debt, as well as the underlying connection to the future which debt holds, when no more wealth is available through non-violent means, excuses are searched to gather ever-more wealth. This becomes then, violence and war.

Without these concepts working together, war would become a much less appealing venture. Those who are only concerned with fulfilling their momentary needs see virtually no reason to go to war and would only violate others’ needs if there was no other way (i.e., the starving man who steals a loaf of bread).

With these concepts working in tandem, a wall street hedge fund trader with billions of assets feels pressure to continue to grow the fund for the future, even though his health is suffering in the process.

5. Debt creates pressure for us to live in the PAST or the FUTURE instead of the PRESENT

The present is the only moment we really have. Jesus said, “Take no thought for the morrow.” If we are worrying about tomorrow, we are missing what is happening now.

Debt is only concerned with yesterday (what was borrowed) and tomorrow (when I will get my money back). Thus it becomes very simple to be lost in the illusion (because we don’t know what tomorrow will be like, we are simply imagining it) of the future instead of living in the present.

This is true for the borrower and the lender. The borrower has to worry about making ‘future’ payments. The lender worries about the borrower making those payments. Thus, their relationship ceases to be one of equality and a legal enforcement pressure of coercion is always present. The borrower becomes the servant of the lender by necessity. This is the legalized slavery of today.

Conclusion

This essay is not intended to be a complete discussion on the subject.

However, as we are looking for new solutions to the problems which we are now facing, it is presented as one possible building-block of this society.

I am very open to debate and discussion. Please let me know your comments.