Following a presentation I made on the subject of money and sustainability, I thought it would be useful to note a list of the characteristics of the present dominant monetary system, and why it is unsustainable. Anyone care to add, or elaborate?
- Eternal growth paradox
Because the money is always lent into existence at interest, there is never enough money to pay back the banks. More money must be created. This need to create more money forces the economy to grow, and drives consumption, carbon emissions and pollution with it. It is of course possible to disconnect economic growth from those unfortunate symptoms, but that is a separate strategy.
- Interest rates always favour short term investment.
The way that interest rates increase the capital sum over time means that short term returns - which can be reinvested - are more profitable than long term investments. Renewable energy projects and retooling our whole society is a massive long term investment and the cost of not doing it is unimaginable. Yet the investements being made are comparable to Aid budgets - tokens.
- Money movement is a symptom of globalisation
With the digitisation of stock markets, money now moves around the world with much greater volume and velocity than ever before. This is part of the globalisation agenda. It also means that labour and goods are flowing around the world ever more freely, which is a poor use of energy.
The present economy is a knife edge, and 'sustainable' growth seems impossible to achieve. Boom/bust cycles are less efficient than sustained behaviour for the same reason that using the brakes on the car is less efficient than going consistently slow.
Money seems ultimately to be its own ethic and raison d'etre. When the free marketeers talk about efficiency, they mean saving money. The present money system struggles to put a value on untouched rainforest, or mother-child contact time, or cost of drug abuse to society.
- Monetary transactions are bad for community feeling
Bernard Lietaer points out in 'The Future of Money' how the introduction of money into societies has coincided with the breakdown of community. This is unsustainable in too many ways to document.