The UsuryFree Eye Opener

The UsuryFree Eye Opener is the electronic arm of the UsuryFree Network. It seeks active usuryfree creatives to help advance our mission of creating a usuryfree lifestyle for everyone on this planet. Our motto is 'peace and plenty before 2020.' The UsuryFree Eye Opener publishes not only articles related to the problems associated with our orthodox, usury-based 1/(s-i) system but also to the solutions as offered by active usuryfree creatives - and much more for your re-education.

Sunday, April 29, 2012

Lessons from the Poor - In The Philippines

NOTE: I was enjoying a cold drink at Starbucks with my son today in Cebu City, Philippines and as I was browsing the The Philippine Star I notice this article. My son suggested that I ask one of the salespeople if I could clip the article out of the paper since it was late in the day. The young clerk agreed to clip the article and give it to me. I thanked him and told him I was from Canada and that my blog had lots of information about my experiences here in the Philippines.I then gave him my business card with the address of my blog and he also gave me his email address. It was wonderful how open and friendly the Filipino people are!! The article is now posted here on my blog - see below!

The article conveys the positive things about being poor and highlights their simplicity, patience and contentment with their plight BUT no solution. This article titled: '
Any Filipino Town (Community) Can Launch A UsuryFree Time Currency' does offer a solution that can help eliminate poverty.
Lessons From The Poor
By Bernadette Sembrano (The Philippine Star) April 29, 2012

'Who is poor? Government has a way of defining it in peso value, of those being under the poverty line. Perhaps, you my readers, would identify the poor as those living in the streets, the beggars and those living in shanties, a.k.a. urban poor. They are poor, but in my humble opinion, the poorest of the poor are those living in the outskirts, which I am truly in awe of. 

First of all, let me clarify that I do not want to be poor because it is difficult to stricken off the right to choose or that fighting chance to life. My heart goes out to them. And yet surprisingly and quite often, I come out learning from the poor and drawing so much from them, much more than what we give them.

Picture this. You visit a poor man’s home. He welcomes you, asking for “pasensya” because he has a small house. You enter his house made from nipa hut with its bamboo floors making a cracking sound everytime you make a step.  You think twice if the house can support your weight.  Notice that the people inside have taken off their slippers, taking extra care to keep their home neat. Everything’s there in that house the size of two cars — their living area and their sleeping area. You don’t see the beds because they don’t have any.

Having an old foam to sleep on is already a luxury. You wonder where they put their clothes. And on the corner you notice a sack or plastic bag, and realize that it is everything they have. They do not have furniture, but a small bangko by the door, outside the house. And on the wall is a calendar with a photo of the mayor’s family.

h glasses on a plate. They serve you crackers and softdrinks that are not chilled because the sari-sari store next door does not have a refrigerator. Apparently, the neighbors have pitched in for the merienda. Again, they ask for “pasensya” for what they could only afford to prepare.

When you need to use the toilet, they direct you outside the house, just a few meters away, and you find a rusting galvanized yero — the door. The toilet is a hole on the ground, and you step on the wood surrounding the hole for balance while you do your thing.  

As you prepare to leave, you’re surprised that they have prepared something for you. They hand you bunch of indian mangoes still on a stem, saying “We have plenty of that here.” They tell you, “If you know how to plant, you won’t go hungry.”  

This is only a glimpse of the poor’s generosity and how openly they welcome a stranger to their home; so trusting and with hardly any suspicion towards their neighbor; and always willing to lend a hand and share whatever they have on the table. Maybe it is this poverty that has sanitized them from the ills of society. I don’t know. But truly their lives are so simple and uncomplicated. 

They live by the day, waking up early to farm while the sun is up and finishing before nighttime, like clockwork. Rarely do they ask for anything.  Life is so simple. 

And even during calamities, the poorest of the poor evacuees get what is enough, even falling in line for relief, ever so grateful and even offering a smile despite losing their loved ones and all that they have. “Diyos na ang bahala sa inyo” are their words.  

What faith in God they possess! And how they surrender with their faith when something unfortunate happens. “God has a plan,” and with hardly any hang-ups, they move on with their lives, less of the drama material of blaming whoever it is to blame for the misfortune and their illness. 

They accept that they are not in control of events brought about by their own limitations, but honestly, who is? Aren’t they more blessed because they know the meaning of surrendering to God’s will?  

Am I saying that we should be poor and give away all our money? No. But it is really a challenge for us with all our choices and resources to focus on what is truly important. And we look at the poor to live richer lives.

As a friend said, maybe quoting someone he couldn’t recall: 'One who is contented can’t be poor; one who is discontented isn’t rich.' (snip) ....

 E-mail me at:

NOTE: This article is originally published at this website: 

NOTE: Also worthy of reviewing for relevant information:
The Manifestation of Real Crisis and its Deadly Effects To All

Tuesday, April 24, 2012

Any Filipino Town (Community) Can Launch A UsuryFree Time Currency

NOTE: I choose to use the word ‘token’ or ‘wampum’ when I write about the usuryfree community currency movement because governments all over the world assume that they have control over forms of money that refer to themselves as ‘currency’ – which is defined: ‘Money in an form when in actual use as a medium of exchange, especially circulating paper money.' In this article I will use the term ‘usuryfree time token’ to refer to the proposed time trading unit.

Further Note: This website offers a good explanation of the conventional unit of money – the usury-based, debt currency commonly referred to as the Filipino Peso: 
A small Greek Town (Volos) Develops a Bartering System Without using the Euro: and the BBC reports it as a ‘good news’ item.

Likewise RT also reports: the story as a ‘good news’ item.

After having been in Cebu City, Philippines for two weeks, I have witnessed extreme poverty and abundant wealth. And in the middle, I have had the opportunity to meet many young entrepreneurs from foreign countries who have settled here in recent years to launch successful online businesses.

The foreign owners of these online businesses with whom I have had interactions, display a high degree of integrity and they offer not only fair monthly wages, but also excellent working conditions to their Filipino employees. I hereby encourage these young, successful entrepreneurs to become familiar with the usuryfree time token movement with the intention of considering possible ways that they could co-sponsor the launch of a usuryfree time token here in one of the barangays in Cebu City.  

The young, enthusiastic and highly skilled Filipinos that are being employed by these innovative entrepreneurs who have moved here from other countries are either still enrolled in schools, or they are interns or recent graduates from local schools. They are very appreciative to be able to help their families by bringing home a pay regular pay cheque.

I have had conversations with these young Filipinos – some who are fortunate enough to work in air-conditioned offices and others who have to endure the summer heat while working. When I bring up the topic of economics, and ask them why in 1961, two Filipino Pesos were equivalent in value to one Dollar (American Funds) while in 2012 approximately 45 Filipino Pesos are equivalent to one Dollar (American Funds) – they commonly respond with a statement that it is because the banking power of the western world has caused the devaluation of the Filipino Peso.

There now are options: (a) to continue to be pillaged by the international financiers by resigning to the status quo and engaging in commerce by relying solely on Filipino Pesos – which by definition are another usury-based currency just like the Canadian dollar or the American dollar or the British Pound etc. or (b) in the alternative to take action to by implement local barter/trading systems that will permit participants to negotiate trades with a usuryfree time token in combination with Filipino Pesos.

These usuryfree time tokens are becoming popular because they give value based on the honesty and integrity of the local traders. Additionally, the value of these usuryfree time tokens is backed up by the local productivity of prosumers – people who produce and consume. A functional, usuryfree time token system helps local consumers swap products and services to meet their individual, family and small business needs. 

A key point to understand is that the creation and growth of a flourishing barter system is the starting point to re-build a truly sustainable economy, that will restore  honourable principles of local co-operation and commence the shift to permit barangays to eventually decentralize from the global banking cartel that has a usury grip on the entire Filipino economy –  where there is abundant evidence of poverty, scarcity and lack. The Filipino economy is struggling in a manner similar to all of the other, conventional economies all around the world that are paying usury on debt to the global banking cartel.

Research indicates that It is common for these local traders to use a combination of federal dollars in combination with any usuryfree time token as these barter/trading networks go through the birthing process. For example, a product that retails for 100 Filipino Pesos may have a wholesale cost of 60 or 70 Filipino Pesos. Therefore, since the retailer may have to pay the wholesaler in Filipino Pesos, s/he would probably negotiate the trade and accept 80% in Filipino Pesos and 20% in the local, usuryfree time token. By trading within this ratio, the retailer will be able to cover any costs of doing business with the amount of Filipino Pesos earned.

Readers may ask: Why would any local entrepreneur choose to participate and accept a usuryfree time token as partial payment for any negotiated trade? The answer becomes obvious when a little knowledge is gained about the power and potential of any trading token when the element of interest or usury is removed from the function of money.

Since the re-birth of bartering and trading with these usuryfree community tokens in the early 1980’s – with the launch of the first usuryfree software referred to as the LETS (Local Employment Trading System) software, those who are participating are learning how to use the usuryfree time tokens to acquire some of the basic needs for daily living and/or business expenses and whatever usury-based, debt money they are able to save, they are encouraged to use it to pay off any outstanding loans or mortgages, as it is the interest or usury portion of debt that is the killer machine that keeps debtors financially enslaved to debtors for generation after generation.

After witnessing the technological skills and savvy of the young Filipinos and likewise, the honesty and integrity of the young, foreign entrepreneurs who have established small to medium-sized businesses here in Cebu City, I am convinced that what the Greeks can do, the Filipinos can do.

Why wait for any worsening economic crisis – Do it NOW – just like Paul Glover from Ithaca, New York did in 1991 when he took a leadership role to launch Ithaca Hours and just recently in 2012, Wayne Walton similarly assumed a leadership role to launch Mountain Hours in Summit County, Colorado, USA:  

Back in 2004, The Family Life Foundation – a duly registered charitable organization in Canada, came forth to offer financial aid to help launch Tamworth Hours Project in an economically depressed area of rural, eastern Ontario.

Though, the Tamworth Hours Project has since been temporarily shelved, many lessons were learned that can now be shared with others who are ready and willing to launch a usuryfree time token in their respective local communities. The Family Life Foundation has a mandate to support the launch and development of the usuryfree community currency movement - and hopefully, they would be willing to support such a project here in the Philippines.

I challenge any barangay in the Cebu City or elsewhere in the Philippines to assemble the brightest, youthful minds to research and develop a bartering system that will permit local consumers to negotiate trades using a usuryfree time token in combination with the usury-based, debt currency commonly referred to as the Filipino Peso. I daresay, that the local and internet media will report such an initiative as a ‘good news’ item also. 

This website has compiled list of usuryfree time currencies that were operating earlier in this 21st Century: There are more usuryfree time currencies being launched now all over the world.

Readers are invited to do a search of ‘usuryfree time currency’ and you’ll learn lots that you didn’t know you didn’t know! As  you learn how simple it is to launch a usuryfree time token, you, with the co-operation of others in your local network can take a leadership role and birth a usuryfree time currency in your local community.

NOTE: To examine samples of other usuryfree community tokens click here.
Feedback and comments welcomed – 

The People’s Money

Petrodollar Putsch, Complementary Currencies and Sustainable Moneyby  
Hiram Crespo - Blogger & Freelance Writer. Chicago, Illinois
Hiram Crespo's blog originally posted this article:

The People’s Money: Complementary Currencies and the Need for a Sustainable Monetary Policy in the U.S.

The almighty US dollar, as we know it, is facing possible, if not likely, collapse in the coming years.  Either from another bout of quantitative easing or a successful petrodollar putsch favoring the renminbi, rial, ruble or even gold – American monetary hegemony is at a crossroads.  Once the sell off begins, there is no turning back.

What was once an obscure topic – the Federal Reserve – has in recent years, because of Ron Paul, the Tea Party and Occupy Wall Street movements, almost become part of retail politics.  Americans are overwhelmingly in favor of a full and public audit of the Fed and outright abolishing the nearly 100-year-old private central bank is not out of the question.  What is in question is: what system would replace it?

While many a prepper would argue that having one’s own means of production is the only real way to ensure the individual in the coming inflationary squall, the country’s monetary policy has options – diversify.   The currency in which we hold our assets – the Federal Reserve Note – can be exchanged for gold, silver and other tangible and exchangeable goods.  Our communities can also initiate and participate in multiple alternative currency networks.
Ron Paul has proposed a return to the constitutional gold and silver based currency that was in place since the founding, and has also proposed a Free Competition In Currency Act, which calls for the “repeal the legal tender laws, to prohibit taxation on certain coins and bullion, and to repeal superfluous sections related to coinage.”  Under the Federal Reserve’s stewardship the US dollar has lost most of its traditional value (take a look at their own numbers), hence the recent historic heights of gold and other precious metals – Gresham’s law in full effect.
Scrips as Currency
What many people don’t know is that several localities already issue their own local currencies.  Charlotte has a “plenty.”  Ithaca, New York has “hours” (a time-based currency).  Washgton D.C. has a local currency called the “potomac.”  Detroit also, in response to the current crisis, issues local scrip (any currency which is not legal tender) known as “cheers.”  These are modest initiatives but they hold great potential.
The US Constitution allows states to issue their own currency, as long as it is back by gold or silver.  Utah recently passed a law where gold and silver coins issued by the US Mint can now be used to pay state taxes and are considered legal tender.  Other states are following Utah’s example.
The most successful case of a contemporary American complementary currency are the “berkshares” from Berkshire, Massachussetts, which trade at 100 berkshares for every 90 US Dollars.  Community banks act as currency exchange.  One must then spend the berkshares at one of the more than 400 local businesses that accept the berkshare.  Groceries, cafes, theaters, produce, pretty much all that is local can be purchased in the local currency.
Businesses who accept berkshares are also encouraged to buy and trade with each other in order to take advantage of the 10 % discount that the local currency offers.  Goods are bought and sold for the same amount in both currencies.  What this ensures is that wealth stays local for the long term and that local products and services are given a priority over imports.  It gives people a strong sense of communal pride, and keeps the community loyal and fiscally strong. It also gives small local merchants leverage against major corporations, since their goods can be purchased at a 10 percent discount.  Both merchants and consumers benefit.  More on the

A great film about community currencies or complementary currencies is ’2012: Time for Change’.  Gift certificates are the most recognizable example of scrips (another name for them). There are also virtual currencies, the most popular one being “bitcoins.”
Mutual credit societies have had popularity in Japan for some time, and these models are being replicated in parts of the US where great numbers of people have suffered persistent unemployment and have a need for alternative ways to pay for basic goods. The currency in mutual credit societies is usually time-based (an hour of labor or service) and can be exchanged with any person or business on the network, which is usually comprised of neighbors, family, and friends. In this way, the flow of goods within that community is facilitated and basic needs are much more easily met without relying on the wage-slavery system. In New York, the Ithaca ‘hour’ is one such currency. It’s currently worth ten federal dollars.
One other way to stimulate a local economy, particularly in agricultural or rural communities, would be to go back to a previous age when the currency was set as tied to the value of a crop.  The Aztecs, for example, used the cacao bean as currency. Units of corn, or other goods, can also be tied to a currency.  The idea is that the currency must have some tangible value and not be based on debt.
One negative aspect of crop-based currency, however, is that once the produce has gone bad the currency devaluates so that its value is affected by the freshness of the product, by weather, and other random factors.  But we should not rule out crops, particularly in regions with a solid agricultural infrastructure.  Crops might still efficiently serve as a seasonal currency, and should be used creatively and with other complementary currencies within a dynamic economy.
Public and/or cooperatively-owned granaries could serve as community banks, and the local agricultural wealth could provide additional liquidity to the community, since by its nature the currency must be spent or consumed within a fixed time range.  Some European communities have local currencies where an expiration or devaluation date on the bills has a similar effect, ensuring that money continues to circulate within the community.
If the value of a crop can be fixed to a certain amount of time in terms of human labor, the currency goes from being seasonal to being a more comprehensive and dynamic expression of the community’s wealth, resources, and production.
An hours-based currency implies a radical democratization and decentralization of the power to issue money, since all humans can produce labor, and therefore value. An hours-based community currency places the power to issue money in the hands of the majority, of the workers: it fully democratizes money, abolishes the monopoly on issuing a currency and empowers all workers as entrepreneurs and producers of value.  It would give the people leverage against the current oligarchical corporatocracy.
Energy As Currency
There have been other ideas that have been proposed and are being discussed, the most interesting one being the use of kilowatts as a currency.  This would produce a huge incentive for people to generate their energy locally and cooperatively.  Energy is universally needed and its demand has created some of the most powerful, and therefore some of the most dangerous, monopolies on Earth.  The use of energy as currency would increase awareness of the imperative that both energy and the means to generate it should remain in the hands of the people, or at the very least it might generate awareness of how those who control it, control our civilization and stability.
The same happens with the power to issue a currency.  This all-pervading power is currently in the hands of an unelected cartel of private banks that does not participate in any way in our democratic process and is accountable to no one.  The result of this is that, while banks profit daily and universally from everyone’s debt, we are helpless consumers and have no right and no means to begin a dialogue about how our currencies should serve and benefit our communities.  Again, the more decentralized and democratized that the power to issue money becomes, the more social and economic justice there will be.  I believe that we should move from the current money monoculture to a healthy ecosystem of local, state, and federal currencies.
By creatively working with our currency paradigm, those of us that have been chronically underemployed may be able to turn the problem of corporations not willing to give us work, even as they dwell among us in our communities and make a huge profit, into the fulfillment of our highest aspirations and an opportunity for, at least, partial human emancipation from limitless corporate power.
We may even be able to abolish wage slavery in some communities and allow people to earn a living wage while working 15 to 20 hours per week: Jacques Fresco proposes that this may be unavoidable some time in the future, as we are forced to reassess our entire notion of labor due to jobs going to China and India and to the machines we’ve created.
Curiously, machines took the load off of the backs of horses and oxen, but when we allowed machines to replace us, we did not reap the liberating benefits that we saw with the partial abolition of animal slavery.  We allowed machines to replace us, but continued to live under a dehumanizing system of human labor with continually diminishing wages for the majority of humans while the members of a wealthy class reaped the fruit of our work.
Strong local economies where the most universally used and produced resources, and of course the machines, of a community are cooperatively-owned and lessen the load of human labor -as it should be- might be one way to abolish wage slavery, take us to a shorter work week, help us to regain dignity and realize a true living wage.
As David Rothkopf in his book Superclass points out, ever since 100 million died in the last world war during the honeymoon of modern science and warcraft, overwhelming force has since fallen on hard times.  The international banking cartel can’t very well go into a country and plunder its resources as it did yesteryear, but they can give Haiti or Zimbabwe loans at 29% interest.  Unfortunately there isn’t an international banking bill of rights to prevent the IMF or World Bank from sucking the lifeblood, labor and wealth out of the most helpless members of the human race and enslaving everyone through debt.
If the current debt based paradigm is to be changed sustainable currency ecology with numerous locally and democratically controlled currencies and strong community focused economies need to replace it.  A community that can produce interest-free loans to its citizens for education and housing is less vulnerable to exploitation by corporate banks.  Oddly enough Sharia compliant banks, prevented from excessive usury, are taking a larger and larger role throughout the Middle East and may provide a model to emulate.
In the same way that a monoculture can be catastrophic to a farmer, whereas crop diversity protects farmers from losing everything, diversifying our currencies and means of exchange might also serve as a type of insurance against currency fluctuations.
If and when the Fed is abolished, those of us that can’t afford to buy silver or gold these days and who don’t own land and other means of production, won’t find it so hard to adjust during the currency crisis that we may be facing in the near future.
This is all food for thought.  I didn’t even know a year ago that many complementary currencies that aren’t tied to bank debt are already in existence in the U.S.  I’ve come to believe that an international campaign to educate citizens about alternative banking needs to take place.  Cities or neighborhoods with strong merchant associations, Community Banks, and Credit Unions are perfect experimental grounds that already have the beginnings of the community infrastructure needed for implementing new complementary currencies.' (snip) ...

NOTE: This article is also published at this website: 

Happy 69 Year Old Lady Has Not Used Money For 15 Years

Heidemarie Schwermer, a 69-year-old woman
from Germany, 
gave up using money 15 years ago . . . 

. . . and says she’s been much happier ever since.
'Heidemarie’s incredible story began 22 years ago, when she, a middle-aged secondary school teacher emerging from a difficult marriage, took her two children and moved to the city of Dortmund, in Germany’s Ruhr area. One of the first things she noticed was the large number of homeless people, and this shocked her so much that she decided to actually do something about it. She had always believed the homeless didn’t need actual money to be accepted back into society, only a chance to empower themselves by making themselves useful, so she opened a Tauschring(swap shop), called “Gib und Nimm” (Give and Take).
Her small venture was a place where anyone could trade stuff and skills for other things and skills they needed, without a single coin or banknote changing hands. Old clothes could be traded in return for kitchen appliances, and car service rendered in return for plumbing services, and so on. The idea didn’t really attract many of Dortmund’s homeless, because, as some of them told her to her face, they didn’t feel an educated middle-class woman could relate to their situation. Instead, her small shop was assaulted by many of the city’s unemployed and retired folk eager to trade their skills and old stuff for something they needed. Heidemarie Schwermer’s Tauschring eventually became somewhat of a phenomenon in Dortmund and even prompted its creator to ask herself some questions about the life she was living.
She started to realize she was living with a lot of stuff she didn’t really need and initially decided not to buy anything else without giving something away. Then she realized how unhappy she was with her work and made the connection between this feeling and the physical symptoms (backache and constant illness) she was feeling, so she decided to take up other jobs. She began washing dishes for 10 Deutchmarks an hour, and despite many were telling her things like “You went to university, you studied to do this?”, she felt good about herself, and didn’t feel like she should be valued more because of her studies than someone working in a kitchen. By 1995, the Tauschring had changed her life so much that she was spending virtually nothing, as everything she needed seemed to find its way into her life.
So in 1996. she took the biggest decision of her life: to live without money. Her children had moved out so she sold the apartment in Dortmund and decided to live nomadically, trading things and services for everything she needed. It was supposed to be a 12-month experiment, but found herself loving it so much that she just couldn’t give it up. 15 years later, she still lives according to the principles of Gib und Nimm, doing various chores for accommodation in the houses of various members of the Tauschring, and loving every minute of it. Schwermer has written two books about her experience of living without money and asked her publisher to give the money to charity so it can make many people happy instead of just one. She’s just happy being healthier and better off than ever before.

All of her belongings fit into a single-back suitcase and a rucksack, she has emergency savings of €200 and any other money she comes across, she gives away. Heidemarie doesn’t even have health insurance as she didn’t want to be accused of stealing from the state, and says she relies on the power of self-healing whenever she gets a little sick.' (snip) ...

NOTE: This article is originally published at this website:
Living Without Money – Trailer:

A Synopsis of the Documentary 'Living Without Money.'
'The documentary Living Without Money portraits the life of 68 year old Heidemarie Schwermer, a German woman who made a deliberate choice to stop using money 14 years ago. She cancelled her apartment, gave away all of her belongings and kept nothing but a suitcase full of clothes. This was a decision that changed the entire outlook on her life dramatically.
Today, after 14 years, she is still living almost without money and claims she is feeling more free and independent than ever.  The film follows Heidemarie in her day to day life and shows the challenges she meets by living an alternative lifestyle.
Heidemarie is constantly on the move, meeting new people, staying with old and new friends for a few nights. She is never worried about the future, she’s not even pre-occupied about where she will sleep next week or where she will find her next meal. She knows by experience that things always work out for her as long as she is open to whatever happens. She travels all around Germany, often she is also in Austria, Switzerland and Italy, holding lectures about her experience and trying to convey the message that an easier way of life is possible.
What started out as exchanging favors in lieu of money has now become a lifestyle. She is always trying to help others find a path to a simpler and more harmonic life. She enjoys life in the moment she is living instead of being preoccupied with the future.
In the film we follow Heidemarie in her day-to-day life and experience how she goes about to find food, transport and a place to stay. In addition to showing the daily challenges she meets from living without money, we get to hear more about Heidemarie’s life philosophy and why she has chosen to live this way. We see that it is not only easy for her to live without money in a society where everything is based on money and the value of a person is measured on how wealthy he or she is. People Heidemarie meets on her way, often have strong opinions about her lifestyle. Some call her a “parasite” and claims she is living off others, while some see her as a “visionary source of inspiration”.Through her story we can consider money’s influence on our way of thinking, living and acting and the impact this has on our own lives and health and our environment. This film explores these ideas and reflects of themes of materialism and over-consumption.' (snip) ...
Note: This synopsis of the film documentary is originally posted at this website:

Friday, April 20, 2012

Increasingly in Europe, Suicides ‘by Economic Crisis’

Eoin O’Conaill for The International Herald Tribune
George Mordaunt of Clonmel, Ireland, considered suicide
when his car business hit hard times.

By  and 

TREVISO, Italy — On New Year’s Eve, Antonio Tamiozzo, 53, hanged himself in the warehouse of his construction business near Vicenza, after several debtors did not pay what they owed him.

Three weeks earlier, Giovanni Schiavon, 59, a contractor, shot himself in the head at the headquarters of his debt-ridden construction company on the outskirts of Padua. As he faced the bleak prospect of ordering Christmas layoffs at his family firm of two generations, he wrote a last message: “Sorry, I cannot take it anymore.”
The economic downturn that has shaken Europe for the last three years has also swept away the foundations of once-sturdy lives, leading to an alarming spike in suicide rates. Especially in the most fragile nations like Greece, Ireland and Italy, small-business owners and entrepreneurs are increasingly taking their own lives in a phenomenon some European newspapers have started calling “suicide by economic crisis.”
Many, like Mr. Tamiozzo and Mr. Schiavon, have died in obscurity. Others, like the desperate 77-year-old retiree who shot himself outside the Greek Parliament on April 4, have turned their personal despair into dramatic public expressions of anger at the leaders who have failed to soften the blows of the crisis.
A complete picture of the phenomenon across Europe is elusive, as some countries lag in reporting statistics and coroners are loath to classify deaths as suicides, to protect surviving family members. But it is clear that countries on the front line of the economic crisis are suffering the worst, and that suicides among men have increased the most.
In Greece, the suicide rate among men increased more than 24 percent from 2007 to 2009, government statistics show. In Ireland during the same period, suicides among men rose more than 16 percent. In Italy, suicides motivated by economic difficulties have increased 52 percent, to 187 in 2010 — the most recent year for which statistics were available — from 123 in 2005.
Researchers say the trend has intensified this year as government austerity measures took hold and compounded the hardships for many. While suicides often have many complex causes, researchers have found that severe economic stress corresponds to higher suicide rates.
“Financial crisis puts the lives of ordinary people at risk, but much more dangerous is when there are radical cuts to social protection,” said David Stuckler, a sociologist at the University of Cambridge, who led a study published in The Lancet that found a sharp rise in suicides across Europe, particularly in seriously affected countries like Greece and Ireland from 2007 to 2009, years that coincided with the downturn.
“Austerity can turn a crisis into an epidemic,” Mr. Stuckler added.
Veneto, a region that was the engine of Italy’s economic growth in the 1990s, has been especially hard hit. In this part of the country, which includes the cities of Treviso, Vicenza and Padua, more than 30 small-business people have committed suicide in the last three years for reasons tied to their work as the area has been whipsawed by global trends including a drop in industrial orders, competition from China and tight bank credit.
Though the phenomenon has been particularly acute in the region, it has recently spread to Bologna, Catania and Rome.
In Rome this month, Mario Frasacco, 59, whose company made aluminum fixtures, killed himself, much to the shock of Rome’s small-business association, where he had been a board member. Other members were surprised when he suddenly canceled a business trip with them to Dubai, in the United Arab Emirates, scheduled for May.
“Now, unfortunately, we sadly understand the probable reason why,” Erino Colombi, the association’s president, said in a statement. The association has organized a candlelight vigil on Wednesday to honor the victims of the economic crisis in Rome.
In Ireland, the phenomenon has been linked to what some therapists call Celtic Tiger depression, the period after 2008 characterized by an influx of middle-aged male patients who complained about sleeplessness and a lack of appetite in the aftermath of that nation’s destructive boom-and-bust real estate market.
To search for answers, researchers for the National Suicide Research Foundation in Cork interviewed surviving relatives of 190 people who committed suicide in County Cork during the turbulent period from 2008 to March 2011.
NOTE: This article was originally published at this website:

Articles like this motivate we-the-usuryfree creatives to continue our self-imposed mission to do what we can to help usher in the new age of usuryfree living where everyone can live in peace, prosperity and abundance.

Lots of relevant information is posted here at The UsuryFree Eye Opener (visitors are invited to 'follow' and 'share') and likewise at The UsuryFree Network (visitors are invited to 'like' and 'share.'

Thursday, April 19, 2012

The Swiss WIR, or: How to Defeat the Money Power

'The Rothschild bankers are using usury-based currency to enslave us  By failing to adopt  alternative currencies, we are accomplices in our own enslavement.'
The WIR is a leading example that usuryfree, mutual credit can be offered on a large scale.

For eighty years a major not for profit, private currency has been operating in the heartland of Europe. In Zurich, almost nest door to the Bank of International Settlements in Basel, there is the WIR, turning over the equivalent of almost 2 billioon CHF per year.

By Anthony Migchels for Henry Makow and Real Currencies
WIR was founded by businessmen Werner Zimmerman and Paul Enz in 1934. It was a direct response to the Great Depression. They built on the legacy of Silvio Gesell, whose thinking also was the basis for the famous Wörgl Scrip and today’s German Regional Currencies, like the Chiemgauer.
Silvio Gesell is in fact the Patriarch of what I suggest should be called ‘German Economics’ or ‘Interest-Free Economics‘, the theoretical basis for the anti-usury movement. His analysis of Usury inspired both Gottfried Feder and Margrit Kennedy, two other leading lights of the European anti-usury movement. He also had interesting and much needed ideas about land reform.
Where the Wörgl and the Chiemgauer were/are backed by national (banking) currencies, the WIR goes where nobody before dared to go: it is basically Mutual Credit. Mutual Credit based currencies are nowadays used in Barter organizations world wide. Barter in this sense is a misnomer, they do use a means of exchange but not the national currency. WIR is undoubtedly one, if not the first Mutual Credit facility in the world and most certainly the longest surviving one.
Nowadays WIR turns over a little less than 2 billion WIR (1 WIR = 1 CHF) per year. Because many transactions involve maybe 25 to 50% in WIR while the rest is settled in CHF (Swiss Francs), real turn over generated by WIR is maybe up to three times higher. It has 1 billion of WIR in credit outstanding.
Transactions are settled with the use of debit cards or with their on-line banking system.
Werner Zimmerman and Silvio Gesell
Werner Zimmerman and Silvio Gesell
WIR is operated for the common good and not for profit. About 62,000 small and midsized businesses participate. There are six regional offices through the Swiss republic.
WIR is especially important during downturns. Deflation and capital scarcity make businesses more creative and more willing to deal with WIR’s limitations.
For our purposes WIR is important because it proves that Mutual Credit facilities have a viable business model. It proves currency can be offered at very low cost while maintaining a prosperous and professional organization over the long term.
Notwithstanding its major achievements, WIR suffers from some significant limitations.
In the first place it is not convertible to other units. This is a common problem with Mutual Credit based currencies. Until recently, the technology was not available. Amazingly, many people are so used to this situation that they do not even consider it a problem. They will claim that non-convertibility is actually a strength, as it forces participants to shop within the network. However, this is a mistake. Non-convertibility damages the liquidity (what it will buy) of the currency and liquidity is everything. As a result, many businesses accept only certain percentages in WIR. This hampers liquidity even further.
Another problem is that consumers are not serviced. Only businesses can participate. This again badly damages liquidity: businesses cannot pay their employees in WIR, for instance.
Just think of what is possible for modern units leaving these limitations behind them.
Money Power Subversion
Obviously, WIR is very important opposition against the Money Power. The Money Power can be expected to keep a keen eye on it and there are serious indications it has been resisting WIR actively.
There is a persistent rumor suggesting the Banks have told WIR that things are fine as they are, but that they should not vie for further growth. This may explain why they have not developed a comprehensive strategy for consumer participation.
Also, in the 1950′s WIR started to price its credit with interest. Even today interest rates are very low, with 1% rates for mortgages, for instance, but still. Interest is an affront to Gesell’s ideas. It hinders circulation, which was one thing very much on Gesell’s mind. The price for credit, even at 1%, is somewhat high for collateralized (and thus risk free) long term loans.  It also lessens the power of the message: that interest free credit is not only possible but a fact.
The last few years WIR has been starting to focus on more traditional banking activities, including ordinary loans in CHF.
WIR is a leading example for the entire world. It has proven that interest free mutual credit can be offered on a large scale. It’s superior management was a key factor to its success: it was not a couple of dreamers that built it, but down to earth businessmen understanding the issues and the solution.
It is not convertible and it has no comprehensive strategy to compete outright on a full scale with the Banking Cartel and yet it turns over billions per year. These limitations can nowadays be solved. Convertibility for Mutual Credit is now possible. A comprehensive strategy including consumers not difficult to devise.
In this way the Money Power monopoly on currency can be assaulted. Regulators, inimical as they may be to these schemes, are left empty handed: there are no laws against Mutual Credit and they are very difficult to develop, especially against determined market players who understand what they are up against.
Even though today WIR seems to have been subverted, it took the Money Power eighty years. It is fully possible for just a few thousand ambitious people world wide to open up their own initiatives and the Money Power could easily become overwhelmed.
It goes directly at the heart of the matter: the Money Power’s control over the money supply and extortion through usury and the boom/bust cycle. In this day and age ofdeflation and stagflation, additional working capital is desperately needed by small and mid sized firms. Now, more than ever, are they willing to take a chance when they are offered a real alternative.
The German Regional Currency Movement shows that it can be done even today. In Britain, too, many regional currencies are now starting, most recently in Bristol. This unit is not even circulating yet, but already 100 small businesses have signed up. They desperately need additional cash and new customers and Regional Currencies supply both.
It is no use to wait until the Government cleans up its act. It never will. It is completely controlled by the enemy. Private initiative is the only hope we have. In fact, let’s face it: why would children of the One expect to have their lives be run by sugardaddies like Government? Private initiative is all there is.
Private currencies, competing with the Money Power in the market place are the way forward.
The world was conquered by a few ambitious men serving the Adversary.
It is now time for it to be liberated by a few ambitious men serving the One.
“THERE IS NOTHING MORE DANGEROUS THAN PERSONAL INITIATIVE: if it has genius behind it, such initiative can do more than can be done by millions of people among whom we have sown discord.”
Protocol No.5

NOTE: This article is also published at these websites: