02 October 2009

The End of Money and the Future of Civilization; The Constant Economy - Book Reviews

Excerpt from review of 'The End of Money and the Future of Civilization' by The Ecologist:

'Thomas H Greco Jr's new book on money challenges the growth fetish and gives practical examples of how community-based exchange systems can save the economy, and the environment, from collapse:

In the wake of the financial and banking crisis, this book is a timely reminder of the need to change a system that no longer works.

Aimed at social entrepreneurs, business people, government officials and anyone curious to know how money and the economy operates, 'The End of Money' is the fourth book by a leading authority on free market approaches to money and finance...

The author's central argument is that money as we know it now will become obsolete, though exchange will continue. How all this unfolds is explained in a chronological way, starting with the history of American banking and the export of such banking principles to countries around the world...

The present global monetary system perpetuates economic growth that is detrimental to the environment and democratic institutions and the fabric of society. The author contends that exponential economic growth is resulting in shortages in energy, fresh water and food.

In the age of climate change and the financial crisis, this is all too apparent. Exponential economic growth is not sustainable and Greco prophesises, ‘It seems that all our institutions and structures upon which we depend are breaking down.'

What then is the solution or solutions? Greco proposes a variety of solutions from a complete web-based trading system to creating local, community- based exchange systems which can be linked to regional, national and international networks. Examples of the ‘banjar' system in Bali, Indonesia and the Mondragon cooperatives in northern Spain shows a workable community based exchange system...

A refreshing read into the what ails of the current global financial system. The book leaves you thinking that given the political will and empowerment of grassroots and community -based systems, the environment and civilisation as we know it is not doomed after all.'

Excerpt from review of 'The Constant Economy' by The Ecologist:

'For most environmentalists, the title will be highly misleading. This is not a book about no-growth, low-growth or steady-state economics. It contains no mention of Herman Daly, and its only brush with economics is to decry our fascination with the metric of Gross Domestic Product as a means by which to measure social progress. If you’re looking for a treatise on radical economic models, look elsewhere...

A manifesto for real change...the book is structured by chapters into key issues – ‘An Energy Revolution’, ‘Built to Last’, ‘A Zero-Waste Economy’ – and each concludes with a panel of ‘Voter Demands’ – simple, realistic actions with which readers can either approach their local MPs, or use to hold those in power to account...

Several years of political report writing has given the author a huge command of ‘best practice’ examples that work in the real world. So it is we learn about ‘participatory budgets’ in Brazil, where local people make decisions on public spending; the huge success of decentralised combined heat and power (CHP) systems in Denmark; self-sufficient ecological housing developments in Nottinghamshire and cradle-to-cradle manufacturing models in the carpet industry.

Such is the scope of the book that it would almost be possible to sit with it on your lap during the Copenhagen talks, silently ticking or crossing off its welter of policy demands as they are discussed by UN negotiators. But this would be to miss the point: the book is designed to be used pro-actively, not retrospectively...'

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