Predators - Ancient and Modern

The story is told of a fellow brought before a judge for stealing from a bank.

The judge recognised him from previous court appearances, and asked: “You’ve been before me several times before. Tell me, young man, why do you steal from banks?” To which the burglar replied: “Well, your honour, because that’s where the money is!”

Throughout history larcenists have put much thought into figuring out ways of extracting money or value from money, without actually producing anything useful. It is obvious, for example, that the so-called ‘products’ advertised by banks and other financial institutions, are indeed, not products at all, but simply a method of skimming value off money.

From the inception of gold and silver coin, people of all kinds developed the skill of ‘skimming’ or ‘clipping’ whereby they would shave a very, very thin sliver off the precious metal of which coins were made - <> - which gave the coins their authentic value - ‘as good as gold’. They hoped that the next customer/merchant who would be eligible for some change from a transaction, would not notice the relative lightness of the coin, compared to newly minted coins.

However, people did notice, and therefore tended to hoard newly minted coins, and attempted to circulate the corrupted coins instead. This process became known among economists as ‘Gresham’s Law’, that is, ‘bad money drives out good’.

Now, good merchants don’t like cheats, and because they had influence and status in high political circles, got laws passed in Parliament in the late 17th C. to protect the value of the coin of the realm from being devalued by clipping. This was done by the very simple mechanism of producing coins with a ribbing on the outer rim of the coins, known as  ‘milling’ - the little lines one can find today on English five and ten pence pieces (and on Canadian five and ten cent coins), which made it almost impossible to deface the value of coinage: SEE <>.

 Thus the origin of the milled coin. Of course, today the milling is symbolic, but old habits die hard, and a new form of ‘milling’/’clipping’/’skimming’, which is much more undermining of our currency than the former coin skimming, has come into being. Much of it is hidden, and its impacts, far more devastating than the old impacts, are barely recognised.

Today’s electronic clipping

 In the past, coin clipping was usually considered by the law to be of a similar magnitude to counterfeiting, and was occasionally punished by death (SEE <>). Yet, today, while coin clipping is not allowed, politicians allow a new form: ‘electronic clipping’. It takes several forms, and was well stated by Prof. David Korten in 1999. He describes how money is being legally asset-stripped by financiers who, through lobbying have been able to manipulate the laws of the land, in order to alienate our once sovereign currency. These manipulators have a legal, but not a moral right, to speculate on what should be our uncorrupted daily means-of-exchange - taxpayers’ sovereign money.

In his book: ‘The Post-Corporate World: Life After Capitalism’ Korten notes that:
“The institutions of money have been using international trade and investment agreements to remove the political borders essential to maintaining the economic integrity of communities and nations. This process leaves economic resources exposed to predatory extraction, leading to a breakdown of the trust and co-operation essential to any community.

The real agenda of those promoting these trade agreements is not to eliminate borders, but rather to redraw them so as to establish that what once belonged to the community to be shared among its members now belongs to private corporations for the benefit of their managers and shareholders. Thus, in the name of property rights, corporations draw heavily defended borders around their lands, factories, offices, shopping centers, broadcast facilities, publications, technologies, and intellectual property. With the protection of private guards and lawyers backed by the public’s police and military forces, they thus assure that all uses of these assets benefit their private corporate interest and they silence voices of protest.”

Source: YES! A Journal of Positive Futures, Spring 1999.

So, in summary, what is the link between the historical predators and today’s predators? Very simply, whereas the historical predators illegally skimmed slices of value off the edge of money, today’s predators legally skim electronic slices of value off money. How? By speculating with taxpayers’ money on the currency of the realm. For example, we know that Goldman Sachs has just declared record revenue of $3.44 billion for the most second quarter of this year. But they would not have been able to do that without the public bailing money of $10 billion.

Shockingly, but not fully grasped by citizens, in the process, they obtained that revenue by skimming the various markets they visited, in the process diminishing the value of the money traded - inflation by the back door.

Fundamentally, the politicians we entrusted to help people to borrow mortgage money, have allowed private banking companies to write blank cheques for themselves, producing nothing of value.

For, from their first speculative transaction to the last, not one iota of productivity happened. Where is the product? Financial institutions may, and do, advertise their paper scams as ‘products’, but the reality is that there is no product. Basically we are funding predators to rip us off. Are you unhappy about that? And shall we join together to do something about it? Yes! And why not?

Further references:
- “The New Student’s Reference Work Volume 5: How And Why Stories” by Elinor Atkinson.
- Positive Futures Network, 284 Madrona Way NE, Ste 116, Bainbridge Island, WA 98110-2870 800/437-4451

If you can get this published in your local newspaper/magazine, please do so, and let me know.

Thanks and regards,

David Weston, Democracy for a Change, 20th July 2009