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The Big Shift: Rethinking Money, Tax, Welfare and Governance for the Next Economic System

by Deirdre Kent

This book was launched at the Living Economies EXPO, 31st March – 2nd April, in Lyttelton. Many of the topics in it were discussed during the three days of inspiring presentations, panels, Open Space discussions and free-time chats.

It’s a very short book, 93 pages, and can easily be read in one morning if you don’t follow up on the many footnotes indicating useful backup information in books (some in LIFT) and online links.
Most of it will be easily understood by the common reader with no background in economics, because it is full of real examples of failures and successes of various methods of managing economic systems.

Unlike most books on the topic, the author presents on p.5 a summary of the book’s proposed new system, so you don’t have to plough through the background to reach the conclusions. Then you get the detailed proposals, with examples of past and present failures that cause the need for change, and successes proving the value of the suggestions. Climate change is one of the big risks the world faces, especially with the fossil fuel issue, bringing the need for action now in the economic world, if we want to successfully adapt to the next economic collapse. Buckminster Fuller is quoted: “You never change things by fighting the existing reality. To change something, build a new model that makes the existing model obsolete.” This book’s new model will include a money system, a tax-and-dividend system and a partnership model of governance.
“1. From bank-created money to a consciously designed and publicly created and controlled currency.
2. From ‘ownership’ of land and resources to sharing the values of the commons.
3. From domination to partnership.”

Why should a reader who is not an economist read this book?

“Though banks and oil giants have size going for them and ‘corporations rule the world’, their size is also their weakness……Smaller groups can be more nimble.” Think of the effectiveness in NZ of the waves of small-group action in the anti-smoking movement, and the Nuclear-Free groups. “If small communities reassert their right to govern and reclaim some major functions, the corporations won’t know who to sue first.”

And here in Lyttelton and greater Christchurch we already are stepping along the way of transition, for example with worker cooperatives, social enterprises, savings pools (and hopefully Christchurch dollars); in other parts of New Zealand other initiatives have been set up – land value rating (local tax) systems in Wellington and Napier, and a community land trust for Kotare village; and public banks rather than private have been hugely successful in the BRIC countries.

The book concludes with 20 brief statements of the positive results of this “BIG SHIFT”. My favourite is “No.2 - New life in industry, and a sea change in horticultural and agriculture methods.” But I applaud all of them!

This Changes Everything: Capitalism vs the Climate

Naomi Klein

This is one of the most important books in LIFT.

It explains everything about what’s wrong with our world (well, almost!). It tells us about everything that is being done and that can be done to change the situation and save our future (well,  almost!).  If Naomi Klein had included any more topics the book would have been too heavy!  

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Lift Review: Local Money: What Difference Does It Make?

LOCAL MONEY: What Difference Does It Make? By John Rogers 
Publisher: Triarchy Press, U.K. 2013. 59pp, Resources 1p, Questions for Study Groups 2pp. ISBN: 978-1-909470-19-4.

‘LOCAL MONEY’ is referred to by the author as a pamphlet, rather than a book, as it is so short, simple and clear as an introduction to a complex subject. Briefly, it sets out to explain how local currencies work, their benefits and problems, and suggestions on action for the reader. It is very suitable for a study group. For the reader who is new to the subject, or who wants an introduction to the topic but does not have time to read a longer book, this is ideal.

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Lift Review: The great disruption: how the climate crisis will transform the global economy

The great disruption: how the climate crisis will transform the global economy

Paul Gilding, 2011

There are many books and films telling us that our world as we know it is coming to an end. This one does too – but in a very wise and balanced way: the world as we know it is unhealthy and harmful, so we need to change our ways to make it a better one, and avoid the worst possibilities.

The author refers us back to books and activists in the past, as far back as Thoreau (1817-1862), Rachel Carson in 1962, ‘The Limits to Growth’ in 1972 – and many more who should have been heeded earlier, when it would have been easier to transition to a more comfortable world.

He became an activist at 17, in the anti-apartheid campaigns, so he knows what can be effective. In his working life he has been a labour union organiser, a member of the Australian military, a fulltime antinuclear campaigner, joined Greenpeace and become the CEO of Greenpeace Australia, attended many international conferences including the Earth Summit 2002, and then set up Ecos, a consultancy which worked with some of the world’s largest corporations, hardwiring sustainability into their business planning. This project is just one example of an achiever who does not simply attack a group or activity for causing the problem – he finds ways to get them to change themselves, in their policies and practice.  This is based on his conviction that no matter how vividly a picture is painted of the coming crisis caused by climate change, most people are not going to feel empowered to take action until it hits them in their pockets – then they will seriously consider changes in their lifestyles and priorities and investments.

Gilding cites World War II as an example of our capacity to respond to a crisis when forced to. He believes that a war-like response is required now.  “Over the years of World War II, we saw rapidly decreasing inequality, decreasing individual consumption, decreasing material living standards, and yet rapidly increasing public health, and all with a huge degree of public support. Life expectancy during World War II for civilians increased at more than twice the rate of any other years in the twentieth century even as so much death surrounded them.”

The book is full of examples of what is needed and how it can be achieved, in such a way that I simply had to keep reading.

Optimism is a key component of his work as a motivator and as a writer. “Hope is a stance. It’s a belief system I choose to work within, because it’s more effective - it makes me feel better. And most importantly, Mahatma Gandhi and Nelson Mandela did not win their particular movements by advocating despair.” And this book excels in providing examples of changes already being made, that create hope, and energy, in the reader.

This makes it a “must-read”!


Lift Review: Hard to Swallow

Hard to swallow: the dangers of GE food: an international expose

Jeffrey M. Smith published by Craig Cotton   (published by “YES!” 2003 as “Seeds of Deception”)

‘This book is a major event in informing the public about the safety (or more precisely the lack of it) of genetically modified foods, which are hailed to be one of the most important scientific developments of our age…. A particular strength of the book - and this will be hated by the pro-GM lobby – is that it uses very colourful but easily understandable language to describe what is usually regarded as ‘high’ science.’ Arpad Pusztai, Ph.D, British expert on safety research.

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LIFT's Reviews & Summaries

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 Wanting to read one of our great books but just don't have time?

Just ask Juliet for a summary, she has several available by email including:
  • "Blessed Unrest", by Paul Hawken
  • "Fleeing Vesuvius", by FEASTA and LE
  • "No More Throwaway People", by Edgar S. Cahn
  • "Sacred Economics", by Charles Eisenstein
  • "The End of Money and the Future of Civilization", by Thomas H. Greco
  • "The Future of Money", by Bernard Lietaer
  • "We the People", by John Buck and Sharon Villines