Saturday, May 5, 2012

A More Perfect (Monetary) Union

I recently had a wonderful correspondence with a dear friend and colleague in which I had written the following two sentences in response to an impassioned inquiry into how to solve a funding need for a truly inspired project.  In response to my letter, these two sentences were described as “dense” and “in need of unpacking”.  As I wrote my response, I realized the applicability of this conversation to many others and so, courtesy of my friend’s valuable criticism, I’m inviting you all into a deeper discussion.

“…I have never encountered anyone who has an ‘abundance of scarcity’ when it comes to accessing money.”

“I have frequently encountered impulses who want to emerge without being defiled by the surrogacy that comes with money.”

Let’s start with the first absolute statement.  Money, in terms of Integral Accounting, is a surrogation-utility of value transfer.  Money, in its agnostic form is neither credit nor debt; neither sovereign nor communal.  Rather it is the manifestation of a consensus promise – explicitly in the form of an artifact – of temporally stored value.  When one states a “lack” or “abundance of scarcity” around accessing money, this can often be discerned as a symptom emblematic of either a detachment from communities of trusted consensus or an obsession with a particular form of artifact.  In a fiat or central bank-linked debt denominated currency system like the one in which we find ourselves, we may perceive scarcity of dollars in a world overflowing with artifacts of temporally stored value. 

The effort required to expand our understanding of Money in an inclusive sense is monumental if we’re looking for dollars, euros, rupees, or yuan.  While I can accept on one level that one may have an abundant scarcity of accessing these sub-class artifacts, I would suggest that the deeper issue is an incapacity to see other value storage units that are present for which no explicit account has been taken.  Too often our self-imposed exile from deeper interaction and engagement comes from our unquestioned assumption that we are compelled to suspend our inquiry when it comes to money because “the system” mandates our acquiescence to its ubiquity.  This is merely the Stockholm Syndrome in which we are confined within, and defenders of, the agency of our captivity.  Worst of all, we heartily defend our dependence on a utility inextricably linked to our enslavement sacrificing even our most deeply held aspirations on the altar of, “I would have, but for…”

My second observation – if you can imagine it – is even more controversial.  Much of the world has seen well-intended actors watch helplessly as great animating impulses whither for the “lack” of money.  What is abundantly ironic in this sociopathic state is our unwillingness to consider that the impulse may not want to be animated by an artifact that could one day destroy its purity.  Many people would classify me as an entrepreneur.  I find that classification repugnant not for its literal illusion to the ring master of an itinerant French circus but rather for the mistaken cavalier personality customarily associated with the moniker.  Among the endeavors of greatest consequence in my over two decades of commercial business, funding neither animated nor validated the efforts I’ve undertaken.  In fact, when I set out to create M•CAM in the mid to late 90s, I knew that the greatest market inefficiency was the unaccounted value for state-sanctioned artifacts of human innovation (the fact that banks took intangible asset liens but could not count them as explicitly valued collateral).  The scale of the commercial banking side of our business alone is conservatively measured in the trillions of dollars!  However, the explicit requirement that our business had was not reckless monetary financing – it was ratable balance sheets.  Inviting investors and financial institutions into a dialogue where they were asked to keep their money but merely lease access to their assets was the most perplexing value proposition they’d ever heard.  And, mind you, this is while dot com madness was frothing a bubble with valuation multiples exceeding 1000 times revenue or more on ludicrous delusions.  Their incredulity notwithstanding, our company persisted for over 14 years and it is only now that people are starting to get that to access the largest banking and conventional capital market in modern history, we don’t need funding!  We need collaborative asset counter-party agreements. 

You see, even at the white hot core of the monetary and banking system, the single largest monetary denominated transaction in history (yes, even bigger than Facebook’s IPO or Apple’s ephemeral valuation) can only occur in an ecosystem where counter-party asset interaction (in Integral Accounting parlance “Custom & Culture”) is the predominant value.  Here’s the rub.  When we take a step back from what we perceive to be indicted for “lack of monetary endorsement or funding”, we may very well be seeing an opportunity to be unconstrained from the limitations imposed by a debt-based currency.  Now many of you will see what I'm describing and contextualize it some paternalistic 60s or 70s communal nostalgia.  This is not the case.  Right now, the biggest economic (monetary) growth engine on the planet realizes that narrow views confusing "currency" with "money" is contrary to its growth.  When China recently entered into its transaction clearing agreements with Japan and India, the value did not accrue to their respective currencies.  Rather, it accrued to the Custom & Culture friction reduction between cross-border businesses.  While the explicit currency clearing agreement uses money, the value of the AGREEMENT is an explicit acknowledgement of Custom & Culture harmonization.  Neither the Japanese nor the Indian agreement explicitly expanded wealth transfer or trade but both did create a common market into which new types of relationships would be possible (saying nothing of their disintermediation of the U.S. dollar dependency). 

Much of what we collectively judge to be impaired by insufficiency in funding is, to the contrary, begging to thrive independent of money’s insidious constrictions.  In their recent Thrive: The Movie, Foster and Kimberly Gamble stated that on their path to documenting narratives of humanity thriving, they kept running into the horror of humanity held hostage by money and its nefarious lords.  My heart breaks when I see a film nominally about ‘thriving’ conclude with a call to abolish the Federal Reserve.  Money isn’t the problem.  The Federal Reserve isn’t the problem.  Heinous, sociopathic corporate titans aren’t the problem.  Large banks aren’t the problem.  The problem is a humanity that elects to actually empower these entities by continuing to participate in the system devoid of willful, more expansive, more imaginative engagement.  I’ve spent time with the people and the corporations of the Gamble’s inquiry.  And, as odd as it sounds, many of the people (yes, there are real people in the upper echelons of the rarified 1%) are enthusiastic when they hear about initiatives to diversify the calcified dependence on an anachronistic debt-laden dollar denominated system.  And while I would not suggest that there is unanimity in the stratosphere of the financial elite with respect to an appetite to abdicate the power they perceive to wield, I have had too many experiences of profound behavioral shifts from those that see an alternative form of engagement explicitly apart from their monetary narrative.

To conclude that every illumined path must eschew all currency artifacts is the stuff of myths and is a luxury of the elite.  But to ascribe to currency a supremacy at the expense of all other temporal value surrogates is to serve oneself Hemlock and begrudge the death.  We must realize that the persistent passion, when not attended with money or any other accounting artifact around which we perceive animating necessity, may still be an impulse worth following.  In one instance, our struggle to provision it may merely be a teacher to allow us to see the world in a new manner.  In another, it may give us the opportunity to discern the true emergent signal clarified from the metaphor we constructed when the impulse first arose.  And in yet another instance, we may be invited to manifest an impulse without defiling it with provisioning that is incompatible with the intended scale, duration, or intent. 

Now don’t you wish I had just stated all of this in two short sentences?  Oh, that’s right, I did.  But I’m thankful that you needed me to unpack the “denseness”.  I hope this helps.

1 comment:

  1. An excellent opportunity to participate and expand the playing field while illuminating the dysfunctions. I see unpacking and packing simultaneously, as well... thanks so much for your continued sharing, inspiration, and energy around all of the work we're doing.


Thank you for your comment. I look forward to considering this in the expanding dialogue. Dave