People

The Kung Story

(English dubbed in German… would be nice to find the original English)

https://en.wikipedia.org/wiki/%C7%83Kung_people

for a just world economy: Elisabeth Gründler portrays the Visionary Bernard Lietaer

home & school

Bernard Lietaer was born in a time of great cold.

February 1942 was not only one of the coldest of the 20th century, his birthplace Lauwe, in the Flemish part of Belgium not far from the French border, was occupied by the Nazis at that time, as was almost all of continental Europe.

His parents’ house was confiscated, the lower floor was used by Wehrmacht officers as a casino.

But he has few memories of this very early childhood.

How his name would be pronounced correctly, I want to know, because I stutter again and again.

“As you wish!”, he replies laughing: “‘Litar ‚in Flemish,‘ Litär ‚in German, and in French‘ Litaire’, the Spaniards say …“.

The polyglot Flame does not take it so serious (how his name is pronounced).

We also talk partly in English, partly in German, sometimes we also switch to French.

Multilingualism has a tradition in the Flemish border region near Kortrijk, which is home to the textile industry and the fabric trade and which has changed state affiliation several times over the centuries.

“When my parents didn’t want us children to understand them, they talked in French”, Lietaer recalls.

At the age of twelve, as is customary in his family, he is sent to Godinne to a boarding school run by Jesuits.

In this elite school near Namur, in the French-speaking part of Belgium, the Flanders bourgeoisie has always given their sons humanistic education.

Did this shape him, Jesuit rigor and discipline?

“I learned to think with the ancient languages of Greek and Latin and was trained in all logical disciplines”, he says in retrospect.

“I did not suffer. Learning was easy for me, and when I went to boarding school, it was just introduced that we were allowed to go home every two weeks.“”

Early love of travel

The youth meets the expectations of his parents’ home and school and still goes his own way during the long summer holidays.

At the age of 14, he hitchhiked alone to explore the world: first Belgium and France, then Germany, the Alps, finally Italy, Greece and the Middle East.

“At first, my family was nervous”, „Lietaer recalls, “but when I came back safe and sound, they left me.”

“I learned the most from the people I met along the way.”

“I have also worked in Austria e.g. as a harvester, and always asked myself a topic that I have studied intensively during my travels.”

“In Italy I studied the Renaissance.”

“I fell in love with the city of Florence and stayed there all the holidays, although I originally wanted to travel all over Italy.”

When he explores the French metropolis at the age of fifteen during the summer holidays, he meets a Spaniard of his own age who does not speak a word of French or English.

“We first communicated with hands and feet and visited the city together, I became his guide and interpreter.”

“To thank him, he read me poems by Garcia Lorca every evening.”

“That was why I learned Spanish.”

“This is the only language I have learned because of its beauty.“”

He is always looking for the key to help him understand the country and its people.

He also writes about his chosen topic for the local newspaper of his hometown.

“When I visited the Middle East, I studied the political context beforehand.”

“Only then can one understand the Arab countries and Israel.”

“Besides, I had to choose, because I didn’t want to read everything!”

“I have always prepared myself intensively for my travels, because only if you know something, you can also understand.“”

Spiritual search in India

The key to Indian culture, the young Bernard Lietaer believes, is religion.

In the summer of 1960, the 19-year-old high school graduate hitchhiked to the subcontinent.

In Benares, he gets introduced to Indian Raga music by Raymondo Panikkar, then retreats to an ashram to learn meditation and get initiated into Sidhi yoga.

““It’s not for me”, he explains to his teacher after a few weeks.

“You are absolutely right”, „he affirms.

“Sidhi yoga is not for you.”

“You are destined for karma yoga!”

“Karma means ‘to act’, and karma yoga means to interfere with and shape the world.”

The young man decides to start immediately.

He leaves the monastery and turns to a typical Western sport, mountaineering.

This is pure actionism, “he says today”, a typical Western activity.

But this part of his journey should not be so completely without meaning.

This part of the journey should also have a practical purpose.

Lietaer seeks the advice of the legendary Sir Edmund Hillary, who was the first to conquer Mount Everest, which summit he could risk as a relatively untrained beginner.

Hillary proposes him the Muktinath Himal in the Nepalese Himalayan massif, between Tibet and Annapurna.

This mountain with its approximately 7500 meters was not attractive enough for professional climbers until then and as a result has not yet been mapped.

Bernard Lietaer follows the advice of the famous Explorer.

On the way to Nepal he meets a young British man from Rhodesia, with whom he dares to climb.

Two weeks later he returns, ten kilos lighter, with the map of the mountain in his luggage.

“India has changed me“” he says in retrospect.

Acting in the world

Bernard Lietaer now knows what he wants: to become an engineer and to shape the world.

But a humanistic baccalaureate alone does not entitle him to study technology.

He returns again to a Jesuit school in Brussels to prepare for an additional mathematics exam.

“That was one of the two years I worked really hard”, „he laughs.

“The second year was at the Massachusetts Institute of Technology (MIT) when I wrote my second thesis there”, a master’s thesis.

In 1961 he enrolled at the Belgian University of Leuven, where he has been taught bilingually for centuries.

Here, the language-loving student becomes president of Belgium’s only bilingual student association, the Conférence Olivaint de Belgique COB, for two years.

Here students of all political directions could train the tools of public life.

“Each of us could present his theses in both national languages.”

“You could answer a French argument in Flemish and vice versa”,“ Lietaer recalls.

“There I learned to speak, write and defend my theses with arguments.“”

Twice he organizes exploratory trips to Ivory Coast and Venezuela for himself and his fellow students during the semester break.

„We were always a group of 35 to 40 students.

“Each of us had to prepare a topic, such as private investment, healthcare system, etc.”

“We gave lectures to experts from the country.”

“Then we jointly produced a report that was published.”

“Shortly after our arrival there was a severe earthquake with many dead”

“which completely upset the program, but the learning possibilities in such a situation were infinite.”

In 1965, the University of Leuven was split into two.

The old university remains Flemish, and a new French-speaking university is being built in front of the city.

For someone who can now easily express himself in several languages, this was a throwback to the dark past.

“The University Library was divided by leaving volumes 1, 3, 5, 7 of encyclopedias in the Flemish University,”

“and placing volumes 2, 4, 6 in French. This is not just stupidity, this is a crime!”

The lab that he needed for his experiments in plasma physics, had been outsourced to the Flemish University.

It would have been no problem for him to write his thesis in Flemish.

But because he was enrolled at the French part of the university, he was only allowed to use the facilities of the French university.

He had to find another topic.

And the laboratory was empty all the time, nobody needed it.

“That’s why I left Belgium.”

“I did not want to endure such narrow-mindedness.”

And he is taking another insight with him to America,

where he will study and work for the next decade: scientists and researchers are not the ones who decide how the world is shaped.

They are, he has painfully experienced, play ball from other forces.

As a pure technician, he can never realize the karma yoga he is looking for.

comment: well let’s look at Elon Musk.

He surely changed/has an impact on the way mankind travels (more (hopefully renewal) electric, less fossil).

He chose the entrepreneurial way.

Basically creating products and companies, selling those products and companies, building better and bigger companies that would “change the world” (the everyday way humans survive).

He did this by…

1) growing up in harsh South Africa environment

2) at the age of 12 creating his first “product” he made, was a computer game called “blaster” (source code was published in a magazine and he received $500, It was “a trivial game…but better than Flappy Bird”, Musk was quoted saying.)

3) immigrating to USA studying economics and physics

4) a bit of luck (basically profiting from the .dot bubble, where bigger companies would buy “anything-internet”)

“In February 1999, Compaq Computer paid US$305 million to acquire Zip2.[3]:109 Elon and Kimbal Musk, the original founders, netted US$22 million and $15 million respectively.[3]:109[16] The company was purchased to enhance Compaq’s AltaVista web search engine.[4][17]”

… back to the topic.

The path from Engineer to economic politician

In 1967, the young engineer left Belgium, joined MIT in the USA and simultaneously enrolled at Harvard.

He changes the faculty and initially acquires an MBA.

In his thesis, his second Master’s Thesis, he deals with the international financial business.

It is entitled „Financial Management and Foreign exchange trading.

An application technique for reducing risks”.

The international monetary system of Bretton Woods, with its stable exchange rates against the dollar, is in its final stages at this time, and Lietaer is using all his mathematical and technical skills to develop a computer-controlled system that makes fluctuating exchange rates economically manageable.

A know how that is urgently needed in practice a few years later – in 1971 fixed exchange rates are abolished.

In 1969, Bernard Lietaer opened an academic career at Harvard.

But he wants to shape, not just describe, and finds that counseling is the most effective way to continue learning.

Because, according to Belgian law, he can also do development work as an engineer instead of a military one, he hires an American consulting firm on the condition that he is sent to a developing country.

This is followed by several years of consulting work in Mexico, Australia and Peru.

In Peru, he advises the nationalized mining group on how it can increase its foreign exchange earnings in times of fluctuating exchange rates.

Lietaer develops special computer models and is therefore very successful.

“About 70 percent of Peruvian exports were checked by my computer models.

Within a short period of time, Peru achieved an increase in its foreign exchange income of around 20 percent.”

At that time, Lietaer already saw the impoverishment of the countries of the South as a serious problem and believed that he could contribute to Peru’s development through his work as a consultant.

But the reality of the corrupt power elites catches up with him.

The Peruvian government bought Mirage fighter jets with the foreign exchange earnings.

“Absolutely pointless“ „he says,” there was no enemy, and even if there had been, the military could not use the Mirage at all.

I had to admit to myself that I had been working on the wrong problems in the wrong place,“ he sums up this part of his life.

A money expert develops

Lietaer gets into an existential crisis and decides in 1975 to take a break from consulting work.

The family reasons make his return to Belgium desirable, and he accepts a call from his alma mater in Leuven for a professorship in international finance and international trade.

He taught there until 1978.

At the same time, he was entrusted by a research centre in Brussels with a research project on Latin America.

The result is a study on the development of Latin America, in which he forecasts the debt crisis of the 1980s and develops proposals for solutions on how to respond creatively.

For the first time, Lietaer recognizes and formulates that the causes of economic misery are rooted in the monetary system.

The reality is developing exactly as predicted: more than 80 currency crises will follow worldwide in the next two decades.

The change between practice and research and teaching is to become a pattern of his life: whenever he reaches limits in his practical work, he withdraws to a university for the processing of his experiences and the development of new models and visions.

A “reverse Sabbatical,” he calls it.

“I always teach what I have to learn for my own research. This is a very effective way for me to learn.“”

At the Belgian Central Bank

When Lietaer is about to complete his research after three years, he receives a call from a headhunter who wants to win him over to the Belgian Central Bank.

He decides to return to practice –perhaps, he hopes, there he has the opportunity to contribute to solutions to the instability of the international monetary system.

In 1978 he became head of a 200-employee department for organization and computer application at the Belgian Central Bank.

It is the time when (German Chancellor) Helmut Schmidt and Valéry Giscard d’Estaing invented the ECU (predecessor of the €uro) to protect the European economy from the exchange rate fluctuations of the US dollar.

At that time, this original form of the common European currency was still pure book money, which was used exclusively for foreign trade and for which programs had to be developed.

It is the first project that flutters onto the desk of the new head of department, Lietaer, and for some time he believes that he has found the right design options here at the Central Bank.

But his hope of making a meaningful contribution to the positive development of the monetary system at the center of power is not fulfilled.

In a conversation with the head of the Bank for International Settlements (BIS) in Basel, de facto the Central Bank of Central Banks, he realizes that central banks are part of this vulnerable system that they keep going, and that they are not responsible for improvements.

auto translated from source:

https://web.archive.org/web/20140714172851/http://www.kurskontakte.de/article/show/article_40d2a6430ebeb.html

thanks to Elisabeth Gründler & archive.org

comment:

actually it is “easy” to create “a better world”

all that would be needed is

banks giving easy access loans to “good projects”

not “bad projects”

the GLS Bank is claiming to do this, but i do not think they are really doing a good job

“Greenpeace activists have landed on the roof of a European Central Bank building to protest the financial institution’s loans policy, which they say favors heavily polluting industries”

https://abcnews.go.com/International/wireStory/greenpeace-protests-ecbs-loans-carbon-heavy-industries-76358324

ECB injects over €7 billion into fossil fuels since start of COVID-19 crisis

Key findings

  • Between mid-March and mid-May 2020, as part of its response to the coronavirus pandemic, the European Central Bank (ECB) purchased corporate bonds to the tune of almost €30 billion.
  • €2.4 billion went into bonds of integrated, upstream and downstream oil and gas companies. The estimated carbon footprint of bond purchases of Shell – one of the most polluting companies on earth – Total, Eni, Repsol and OMV is almost 8 million tons of CO2.
  • A total of €4.4 billion went to utilities, with the bond purchases of prominent polluters Engie and EON alone contributing an estimated 3.2 million tons of CO2.
  • A further €5.6 billion went into industries such as aerospace, automobiles, cement, and other environmentally damaging companies, such as Airbus, Daimler or Peugeot.

Read the full analysis by Greenpeace Central and Eastern Europe.

Links:

The negotiations which led to the creation of the European Monetary System thirty years ago can shed light on the Eurozone’s current crisis

 

 

always start with something positive, a positive vision utopia

  • a (almost) perfect mankind
    • everyone would cultivate a humble and kind lifestyle, eager to learn and develop (oneself, help others, settle on other planets, ensure the survival of conscious life in the universe) and dedicate a significant amount of time to family and friends
  • a (almost) perfect society
    • would be 100% crime free
    • would survive in perfect self sustaining balance with it’s habitat (0% no waste, 100% recycling, except the dead really should not be recycled out of respect and ethical reasons)
  • a (almost) perfect system
    • everything would survive within a perfect waste-free-recycling-circle of resources (even CO2)
    • what is known as “work” would be obsolete in the sense, that everyone is self-sufficient and self-employed (enough access to enough land that organically with  houses, machines and robots, tools can easily repaired with 3D printed parts)
      • of course there would and should still be “work”, like gardening by hand, because it is simply healthy for the body and mind
      • of course robots and machines will never exist without maintenance (and probably there will be also other chores)
      • but the amount of chores would be 1% of the human lifetime, while 99% go into what was stated above
      • not because anyone is forcing anyone, but because of the realization, that that is important
    • 100% of all energy would be renewables with the possibility of long-term storage and transport in chemical form

money can not work, only people can utilize money to work for good or evil

(and thus destroy value and society or add-create value to society)

the majority of the “new world order” is actually not so hidden (okay there are very secretive elitist groups like skull and bones that like to conspire among each other in order to gain power, money and influence yes… this is just as the mafia does it and it is an old game called “corruption”, those should NEVER get a job in government)

but the 90% of “the new wealth order” majority is actually not-so-hidden…

from 1200 BC

the last few hundred years…

as can be seen above… not much has changed over the centuries… it is very simple…

  1. those that own land and houses that others want to rent to create-add real value to society (e.g. a company with real jobs in the real economy adding real value to society (like healthcare or healthy products))
  2. those that own the company
    • they “have” (hopefully) smart and hard working employees that create satisfied customers that bring more customers so the company can live on and not go bankrupt
    • the self-employed owners of the company have a little tax advantage over their employees (might get a share of the net gains of the company, or a company-sponsored car)
      • but they also have the disadvantage of “owning” all the responsibility/risk/debt/paperwork that comes with a company
    • the CEO can deduct some “accepted” spendings from tax (all that is required for the company to work, from toilet paper, to energy to computers)
    • if it is not a investor owned corrupt CEO run company, but a company that actually cares about people, their product and the planet, than this is (imho) what is called “the middle-class” everyone is talking about (those with ideas for products and then actually realize them by the power of creativity and dilligence)
      • those are the ones that constantly try to make “their company” better, more efficient, saver, smarter and also (hopefully) feel the responsibility to “safe the company” and the jobs and families attached
      • the troubles: either the management is incompetent or the communication and the family-run company is bad and this leads to bad results and in worst case tensions and bankruptcy of the company
      • (this is how a lot of family run companies end)
  3. those that have a job in a company that adds-create real value to society (such as health or healthy products)
    • they have advantages over unemployed:
      • their value as hard workers is accepted by  society (even if it is in a job as tax consultant, that create-adds zero value to society) because they get up at 7 and work from 8 AM to 5 PM ( or longer), 5 days a week (tendency: increasing)
      • they can complain with all other workers how unfair it is that others drive Porsche (that they will never be able to afford)
      • they can complain how bad their boss is/or how lazy the unemployed neighbor is
  4. the unemployed
    • they are the bottom feeders and some feel very worthless (which is psychologically devastating, it is a pity, because everybody can do something / add-create value to society, but society often fails to organize those possibilities, but some also never felt the need to work to survive… there is a easy solution for that: give em a free parachute flight above panama with an GPS tracker… and pick em up 3 weeks later)
    • can not even afford organic products and always need to buy cheapest (with most chemicals)
    • those that have 24-7 jobs hate them, because they get a little money (and possibly their ever increasing rent for the tier #1 humans paid by “the state”, and “the state” is whoever works and pays taxes)
    • but: they have a pretty functionality:
      • what others throw away, they use (if they are smart they even try to repair it)
        • so this is kind of a resource efficiency function (smart) unemployed people have (avoiding waste)

  1. everyone has the right to survive happily (ever after) and the (imho) obligation to actively cultivate happiness (it will NEVER be realized by eternal factors alone)
  2. the unemployed feel betrayed by the system (that led them down)
  3. the employed feel exploited by the boss / company
  4. those that run the company feel exploited by the tax-office and those that avoid taxes via panama
  5. the top 1-10% are the only winners of this system and only envy those that own more private yachts or jets than they do
  6. what is indisputable is that inequality will create social tensions and maybe even violence and revolution (where it is not even important how much someone actually owns or earns but the perception of it (the fancy car))
  7. what (unfortunately) is also true, is that there is not really fluidity between those layers
    • 90% of the people i know, are employed and will always stay employed and NEVER create a company (in some countries it really sucks to create a company… will get you in massive amounts bureaucrazy, costs and fear of the tax bureau (which is called “internal revenue service” in the USA)
    • only the very eager have a day-time job and at night work for their own company (if it works, nice, might also be able to afford the Porsche, if not… massively in debt that needs to be paid somehow (plus rent and other expenses) via the day-time-job).
  8. it would be healthy for everyone to walk in the shoes of the other to get an understanding and clear picture, what the status of mankind is.

every level has it’s challenges… some super-rich feel super-worthless because they (just as the unemployed) sometimes just do not know what to do with their time (except taking drugs and party).

in the end this is a too massive waste of human time and potential

this needs to change / be organized different, in an alternative (but not 1984) kind of way, and it can!

everybody can do something / create-add value to society (if everyone did… just a little… the world would be completely different)

  • democracy only works with jobs, if there are no jobs, there will be unsatisfied people that cry for “the strong man” to fix their problems (which then massively blows up in EVERYONE’s face, “because power corrupts and absolute power corrupts absolutely” (Lord Acton 1887)
  • fairly and truthfully show and educate people about their possibilities (not all but quiet a lot have the ambition to “make it”)
  • when the market fails (ever increasing prices for assets that are vital for mankind to survive (water, food, “roof over the head and not freezing to death” housing + heating, healthcare, energy, transport (to hospital), access to financial services, communications) to provide humans what they need to survive, the gov-state has to step in and either buffer the markets effects (by gov-state itself become real-estate-owner and rent it out cheap to those in need, have sufficient water, food, energy supplies in stock in the case of market price shocks, or go even further and fix prices where this is possible)
  • ideas need funding, there need to be easy online platforms for people with ideas to get the funding needed to create the next innovative product and jobs
    • here gov and banks and startups (people-with-ideas) need to communicate frequently and work closely together to find solutions that work for all
  • those that do not see the need to work at all… may get a free parachute flight over panama
  • also: happiness (which to buddhist monks is actually nothing more than deep inner sustainable satisfaction) can be learned/cultivated by everyone – no matter what layer

links:

https://www.researchgate.net/figure/Pyramid-of-capitalist-system_fig2_337993433

develop a positive vision of the future!

after the “great Trump induced divide” the USA need to reform it’s system, but does it need a revolution?

the problem with revolutions often is:

  1. what is for sure: people are angry for a reason (vote does not feel counted, reps in Washington “too far away” = lost connection to the problems of Jill & Joe, many small business had to close down & loads of lives and jobs lost)
    1. the anger at the current system is for real and it “the negative” to stay
  2. what about the positive? what shall be after the revolution? (the far harder question)
    1. define what shall be, before removal of status quo, the “anything is better than that” approach is Hitler-kind-of-dangerous (power corrupts, absolute power corrupts absolutely) there is good reason to divide sate powers into:
      1. legislative (laws) (the gov)
      2. judiciary (judges)
      3. executive (police & military, no, not the president and “executive orders” (this is somewhat defined different in the US and EU))

this gov-by-finance system is broken & unsustainable, anyone agrees on that, how to fix it?

some suggestions: (imho small but very important changes that can have great effect)

  • how to fight corruption: with great power comes great responsibility
    • thus: MAXIMUM transparency for the powerful
      • people have to know what politicians are doing
      • every single dollar they or their family earns need to be transparent to the public
    • privacy for the weak:
      • let’s say that 99% of the population are neither criminals nor terrorists
  • how to fight Corona-crisis induced unemployment:
    • state paid jobs!
    • it was done in the US before and it ain’t socialism! it just tries to fix a broken (private ownership zero responsibility) system and help people step back from violence and revolution. all central bankers should agree on that.
    • after the great depression of 1929 massive amounts of people become unemployed (it was not their fault, rather the system’s fault)
      • the state paid group A to dig holes in the morning
      • the state paid group B to fill the holes again in the evening
      • just this time: maybe the US gov can think of more useful jobs
      • Hoover established the Reconstruction Finance Corporation (RFC) to make emergency loans to businesses in danger of default. At first the RFC lent money only to banks, railroads, and certain agricultural organizations, but the scope of its operations was later expanded, and it proved to be an effective tool for stabilizing business and industry” (source January 22, 1932) (unfortunately the RFC was canceled in 1957, because it was deemed not needed anymore, well guess what, would have been better to keep it in place, more crisis were to come, state-owned European banks for reconstruction created after WW2  LUCKILY STILL EXISTS and they are needed very much to counter all the instabilities of private & reckless banking system, a new RFC would also be essential for financing a desperately needed US “Green New Deal”)