Happy Birthday Yes! Magazine

Yes Magazine Cover
Yes! Magazine Celebrate's 15 Years

I just returned from a great evening with the folks at Yes! Magazine celebrating their 15th anniversary at Town Hall Seattle. In case you haven’t read Yes! Magazine, they are a leading sustainability-community-new-economy-social-justice – okay, progressive – media outlet. Their website is a constant stream of free (and ad free) content ranging from articles on social justice and sustainability to the new economy and happiness. I’ve been a big fan of them for some time, and privileged enough to be connected with Yes! through previous events, blogging and twitter friends (check out their issue #56 on “What Happy Families Know” my family is on page 52).

I’ll be adding the video of the speakers once it’s up, but wanted to give a quick run-down of tonight’s events, which included Van Jones, Bill McKibben and David Korten. For being a “humble writer,” Bill doesn’t give himself enough credit for his ability to inspire with his speaking as well as his writing. Van’s words were able to move the audience greatly with what appeared to be almost effortless charm – he had us hanging on every well-executed pause and perfectly timed joke. David gave credence to the progressive movements he’s helped to form and be part of with his piece, as well as highlight some of the great work being done to create a better world.

Yes! Magazine started in a basement on Bainbridge Island and is now a world-wide media outlet for progressive, positive stories and action-oriented motivation. They still function on the island, but their offices are a bit bigger. Of course, being a non-profit, community-supported magazine gives their voice even more validity (always good to walk the talk), but it also means they need support to run such an amazing publication. I highly recommend you becoming a subscriber, or read them online and donate. I’m a very satisified dedicated friend (read: monthly donor) and you might be too!

Happy Birthday Yes! Magazine, here’s to another 15 (or 500) years!

UPDATE: Here’s the video link where you can watch each speech separately or the whole thing.


Ethical Banking Systems

Banks should protect our money, not fleece us for their profit

Our money is loaned into existence and then must be paid back, plus interest. This interest can only come by earning (taking) money from other loans in the system, thereby installing inherit competition and scarcity in our society. Could you imagine a society in which we didn’t have to compete for a scarce amount of funds? How could this alter our communities or the way we treat each other?

An ethical banking system is one that upholds the value of the people who use it. Instead of a institution that values only profit, an ethical bank would value the people that support it. This really shouldn’t be too crazy of an idea, but our banks today do everything in their power to leverage greater profits. The recent economic crash being a prime example. We should support and create banks that support our societal and economic well being, not their CEO bonus checks.

The Reason We Need It

It seems like second nature to me that systems we create as a society should function with the ethics we value, but there is obvious room for improvement. When a lot of our organizations and industries started the room for growth seemed limitless, so it was much easier to gain advantage in the market and grow without sacrificing ethics. Like many things in this era, we’ve run out of that room and the only way to make a higher market share this year and next year is to start finding ethically gray (or black areas) for expansion (e.g. derivatives).

Paper exchanging for paper is now 20 times greater than exchanges of paper for real commodities. This distortion of value from real wealth to phantom wealth encourages a financially dependent system, driving up debt and down real value. Eventually those claims on wealth will be exchanged for actual wealth – even if there are no longer enough. An ethical banking system supports a more realistic approach to real wealth and the money that represents it – as well as environmental concerns with investment and social justice.

An Ethical Banking System is one that encourages stable and equal amounts of material wealth. If you haven’t clued into it yet, our current banking organizations do not function in an ethical way. Our banking system encourages debt, competition, scarcity, and unequal distributions of wealth. What if we created a bank in line with our values? One that supported the people, community, and real wealth?

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Sustainable Scale

Size Does Matter
Size Does Matter

Sustainability is quite the buzzword nowadays. What is sustainability anyway? It would appear at face value to have a simple, easily understood meaning. On the contrary, almost everything labeled “sustainable” is not, creating ambiguity in the meaning of the concept. It has become more of a marketing tool than an actual process. Being sustainable is quite different from what is typically called sustainable in our culture currently.

Something is sustainable if it can maintain balance with the system supporting it, and can do so indefinitely. A sustainable process takes only the amount of resources that can be regenerated by its supporting system between each processing cycle. Waste generated by a sustainable process can be absorbed by the surrounding system at the same rate it is created. Sound familiar? On a large scale, that’s the steady state economy.

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The New Economy Starts Here

“As challenging as the economic meltdown may be, it buys time to build a new economy that serves life rather than money. It lays bare the fact that the existing financial system has brought our way of life and the natural systems on which we depend to the brink of collapse. This wake-up call is inspiring unprecedented numbers of people to take action to bring forth the culture and institutions of a new economy that can serve us and sustain our living planet for generations into the future.”

– David Korten, “The New Economy,” Yes! Magazine, Summer 2009

The Summer 2009 issue of Yes! Magazine makes me want to buy gift subscriptions for everyone I know – this entire issue is devoted to the “new economy.” The new economy is a sustainable one, with ideals outlined very similar to a steady state economy. There are some amazing facts, well displayed in graphics and well written in articles, about how our modern economy functions (destructively) and how the new economy will work (progressively).

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Financial Policy the Definition of Insanity

Abandon Ship!
Abandon Ship!

The old saying goes that the definition of insanity is “doing the same thing again and again expecting different results.” There is talk now of more money needed to keep the big banks afloat. It has become apparent that Bank of America “needs” billions of dollars more (roughly $34 billion, with a B). If it didn’t work the first time, why should it now?

As we shake our heads in disbelief from that news, I should also mention the updated regarding the audacious bonuses that insurance giant AIG paid out after the government bailouts. Turns out AIG’s estimates of the bonuses paid were off by a littleby a factor of FOUR!!!

The total number is believe the be around $450 million in bonuses, given (for incredibly poor behavior) as “retention bonuses.” Seems to me their employees are not going to find jobs elsewhere, so a retention bonus is superfluous at best and deceptive at worst. That is nearly half a billion in taxpayer money given to greedy CEOs already worth more than the average American will make in their lifetime.

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