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Aristotle’s Breakfast: Could there be ethical alternatives to banking?

Is money the source of all evil in the world? Can money buy happiness? Is money the wheels on which the world moves on? There seems to be many questions regarding money; these questions are part of the reason why the May Edition of Aristotle’s Breakfast focused on the ethical alternatives to banking. The session was facilitated by Dr. John Ainsley, a Chemical Engineer with long standing interest in Economics of land and money.

“Money is not a physical thing, but a symbol of wealth,” Dr. Ainsley started. Most people view money as a thing, which should be made. Ainsley disagrees. Money is not made, but earned when goods or services are exchanged for it. Therefore, money is only a means of exchange of goods and services, far superior to barter trade. He went on to argue that, for the money system to function justly, two aspects must be dealt with.

Firstly, money must be created.  This function lies primarily with the State, since the purpose of the State is to uphold the common good.  The money is released into society as a gift.  It can then be distributed fairly using various channels.  However, over a few centuries, the banks have usurped this power from the unwitting State. They now use their fractional reserve system to create money as a debt, which society has to repay with interest. Consequently, individuals, businesses and countries are falling more and more into debt.

Secondly, money must circulate, i.e. people must spend it. If everyone hoarded money, its reason for existence would be defeated. It is for this reason that the State should undertake measures to encourage its movement, for example, by charging a holding fee, or by having frequent recalls and reminting of money.

Throughout history, many materials have been used to circulate money, e.g. gold and silver coins, wooden sticks (tallies), paper notes and now, electronic bytes. The latter exposes the true nature of money: it’s immaterial, merely a symbol.  Dr. Ainsley briefly mentioned other methods of circulating money: Community Currencies, Time Banks etc.

Dr. Ainsley insists that the overdependence on banks to facilitate economic transactions is unnecessary. He claims that the system was invented to satisfy the greed of the bankers and also to force the mass of people to take loans, get into perpetual debt, and thereby become slaves.

He advocates for complete financial independence and insists, “Any form of independence is illusionary if financial independence is not achieved.” This principle applies both to countries and to individuals. He encourages us to educate ourselves as to the true nature of money, so as to unmask the false propaganda, and then to spread this knowledge, so that eventually there is a critical mass of people which will move the system to be changed.


This article was written by Gabriel Dinda.


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