Of Wheat & Gold, by Christopher Houghton Budd (1988)

This little book is very interesting in that it is a sandwich of extremely cogent and clear understanding of the relationship of money and economics to spirituality and human values, with a filling of a very problematic practical solution. He gets right the fact that our current money system is one design out of many possible, and that it’s based on scarcity, and what that means for our world. And he has some very surprising and insightfull things to say about surplus, i.e. more than just the usual “our whole economy is based our ability to produce surpluses and then redistribute them”, but onto what surplus is spiritually, and who should own surplus. He questions if surplus comes from human effort, or is bestowed on us by nature. He examines when surpluses have, historically, been at all time highs, and claims that it is when individual conciousness is expanding most quickly (i.e. the renesaince, and right now).

But in between all this good stuff, is a practical suggestion that we establish a basket commodity currency backed simultaneously by both wheat and gold (because they both represent two different aspects of money, the wheat=agriculture=credit =spiritual and gold=land=value=matter. And that the currency be governed by a centralized non-governmental world body. Well, I don’t buy this. It’s not a solution comensurate problems it purports to solve. For one, how can a backed currency ever be sufficient? Also, one of the clear goals that he points out of a currency, that of matching the economic activity in the economy, is just not possible in any centrally managed currency where the matching is being doing by people trying to observe the economy. Currencies should do this by internal design, not by an external process. It also means that the locus of control of the currency has simply been moved from one central agency to another, which does not solve the fundamental requirement of making money truly democratic. The high level transnational economic organizations that exist at the behest of national governments (IMF, World Bank, WTO, etc) don’t appear to be very democratic to me, nor do they seem to serve the interests of the people to me.

What’s a better solution? Open money of course.

[tags]money,Christopher Houghton-Budd,wheat,gold,currency,community currency[/tags]

Leave a Reply