Look at it this way. Life can often seem to be an endless series of cups of tea in this neck of the woods. I’m not alone in that. A good portion of humanity is strung out on caffeine, if not on something stronger. And I reckon that it’s more than an acre or two that’s put aside to grow it. Now what motivates all those Indian and African hill peoples to satisfy our whims for pick-me-ups when most of them can’t get enough beans and vegetables to eat? Seems mighty peculiar, all of them third world folks getting thin and bony growing cotton, tobacco, sugar, tea and coffee let alone all those crops destined for the brewery. They should be planting food for themselves. The traditional African never ate this year’s crop – it was stored. He was eating the crop from three years ago so that when endemic drought and famine struck he had his reserves to fall back on. Now? Africa only has reserves of sugar and much as everybody likes the stuff I am sure that a diet of it might pall after a time. Maybe it’s that generic term – cash crops – that explains it. As I understand it, they’re growing those crops to raise the money to pay the interest on the loan taken to build the roads to get the cash crops to the markets of the people who made the loans. Of course even the guys who got the contract for the roads were West Germans so the money didn’t stay in Oogoobooga long. True, they employed local labour but they were men who’d lost farm to famine, moved to the city, lost a family they couldn’t support and took to working for beer and a bed, and in order to pay the taxes needed to service the interest on the loan etc., etc. Circular kind of situation?
Far away a filofaxed yuppie sits, eyes-fixed on a monitor displaying the rapid variations of commodity prices. The phone constantly in his hand he buys and sells crops he will never see, sometimes before they ripen, sometimes before they are planted. Nor does money have to change hands, at least not right away. But when it does it has been well worth it, for him at least.
Sir Isaac Newton, in 1717, set the price of gold at £4 4s 111/2d per troy ounce and it remained at that level until the First World War, and even briefly returned to that price in 1925, finally going off the Gold Standard in 19312. The price is now (1988) over $400 per ounce. If a ship’s captain had such a change of reading on his barometer, or a Sellafield worker registered it on his Geiger counter they would be seriously alarmed. Either gold has suddenly and inexplicably become very valuable or the money worthless. Before you decide that scarcity of the precious stuff has forced up its value, know that the entire history of humanity never saw amounts to equal the quantities of gold which were mined and panned in the U.S.A., South Africa, Australia and Russia during the nineteenth and twentieth centuries. Perhaps then our experience of constantly rising prices can only be explained by understanding that the value of money is plummeting. Something is wrong!
At the Citizens’ Advice Bureau Joe has a problem. A self-employed house-painter and interior decorator Joe had contracted to buy a house through his Friendly Building Society. Suffering some back-trouble last year and unable to work he fell a few months behind on the payments for the house. He was amazed that after a few reminders and a final demand from the building society he received notice to quit the house. The Society was going to re-possess it. On examination of his contract he found that, after six years of payments, he owned nothing of his house at all and had, in fact, been paying interest on his mortgage all the time. The financial strain and worry had told on his family life and, what with his unemployment and all, Molly had moved out and taken the kids with her. It was one of his mates who told him to go to the Citizens’ Advice Bureau. They were trying bravely to persuade the Society to see the money paid as being towards the house and hoped to get them to accept some small weekly amount to repay the principal only. That wouldn’t necessarily bring Molly back though.
A very ugly picture is emerging of what’s going on, earthwise. Generally seems to have something to do with money. I don’t want to say it’s the root of all evil but even a cursory glance would seem to confirm this traditional wisdom. Perhaps it’s the nature of the stuff, unhygienic bits of paper (handled by all sorts of people in the course of its life) of no real value. Would that explain the unseemly haste that modern man appears to be in to turn it into something of substance? No-one seems to think anymore about the meaning of what they buy, whose land was stolen to grow it, or who was paid a bowl of rice a day to assemble it. Governments are the same. Give them a few World Bank credits and off they go, bull-dozing, constructing, arming, polluting as much as they can, even if all the evidence seems to point to the wisdom in a certain amount of hesitation or thought. Thought? Appears to be a redundant term. What’s interesting is that money looks as if it is really the root of all evil! On every level – personal, business, industrial, national, ecological and global. Of course the government and the media whip out, on every conceivable occasion, some expert (who pays him?) who uses science and numbers to show that it’s all really way above the average man’s head. They can even produce two different teams who argue furiously about matters which seem remote to the rest of us. Nevertheless we do notice how similar the two sides are and the ease with which they borrow each other’s ideas and policies.
What can I suggest? First of all, in any exchange from now on, if I give something of value (even if it is only my labour, it is my life and it is of value to me) I’d like to get something of equivalent value back. It doesn’t particularly bother me what. Gold, silver, land, a house – whatever – but I’m not happy anymore with those flimsy bits of paper which are always going down, down, down as the prices go up, up and up. If you tell me that there isn’t enough of the gold and silver, and that you’re this clever guy with the calculator, you’ve worked it all out, then I’d say, “What on earth did they do with it all? Where have they put it? I know enough to say that somebody somewhere has salted away tons and tons of it.”
Your philosophical one will laugh at the credulity of simple humanity imagining that the precious metals have intrinsic value and regale you with tales of the use of salt and sea-shells etc as currency, meanwhile the mines in South Africa mine extraordinary tonnages of rock everyday and process it just to extract the few ounces of gold which make it all worthwhile. If it is just an illusion that it has value let them give it to the poor, even let them give 21/2% of their stash to the poor. Suggest such a thing and you’d soon hear the yowls of pain.
Another thing. I don’t want any more loan sharks living off me and I don’t care if they are called President of the World Bank or what. Nor do I care if it is 1%, 4%, 18%, 72% or 242%. It all stinks! As far as I’m concerned they should all go out and get honest jobs and stop squeezing it out of the likes of me. Making money from money is not fair. All that stuff about how lending money at interest is just like renting land. Guff, I call it. Land grows stuff, crops, food, you can graze cattle on it, you can dig minerals from it – money (even gold and silver) just sits there until someone does something with it. There is a difference.
While we’re at it let us cancel the National Debt (perfectly honest – it’s all been paid many times over in interest), house-owners must stop paying once the principal is done with. We can’t take the gold and silver back, that would be stealing, but let’s put a tax on all that stuff which people and governments have locked away in dark cellar vaults and give the proceeds to the needy. That way it will be circulated and there might be a few less hungry people as well. There are many benefits in such a programme, firstly that they will have to ease taxes on the ordinary man (including the small businessman, house-owner and shop-keeper) because, at present, most of that is going to service interest on the National Debt.
Nor are we talking revolution because no matter how you change the faces at the so-called top the same debts keep mounting up and you and I end up footing the bill (coup d’états, elections and revolutions always end up with that result). I’d even go so far as to suggest that we keep exactly the same lot – whether old money, Margaret Thatcher or Glasnost doesn’t really matter to me. But let’s get rid of loan sharks, the small and the big, World Bankers et al, and let us pay and be paid in real value not in plastic and paper. That’d stop people (Central Bankers and forgers) just printing themselves a pile of money when they feel like it.
We want to put PAID to their little game (we don’t want to do them physical damage, just let them taste a year or two of unemployment) because we are PAID:-
PEOPLE AGAINST INTEREST DEBT.
1 First published in “Common Ground” (Ireland), December 1988.
Source: Abdassamad Clarke