Abraham Lincoln and China’s Next Great Leap Forward

Abraham Lincoln and China’s next great leap forward
Using principles he laid down, China could become the first model of an ‘economy of well-being’

EDMONTON, AB, Jun 14, 2013/ Troy Media/ – How ironic would it be if China were offering the world a solution to its protracted global debt crisis based on the ideas of Abraham Lincoln? It was Lincoln who argued that governments should create a sufficient money supply without the costs (i.e. interest charges) that private banks charge when they issue loans.

At its recent 18th annual congress, the Communist Party adopted a fifth and important pillar of its national constitution called an ‘ecological civilization.’ What is ecological civilization and what does this mean for the world?

Ecological civilization originates from the ideas and concepts advanced by economist Herman Daly and John Cobb Jr., an American Methodist theologian and philosopher, in their seminal work For the Common Good. Cobb has played a key role in advancing the concept of ecological civilization with China.

At the heart of China’s economic development policy is the Confucian ideal of ‘xiaokang’. Xiaokang literally means ‘a society of well-being’, or of moderately well off Chinese citizens. In my own work I have advanced a similar concept I call ‘genuine wealth’, with wealth redefined according to its original 13th Century English roots meaning ‘the conditions of well-being.’

Xiaokang has been the foundation of China’s economic development policy since 1991, when it was originally defined in terms of a target of roughly US$4000 per capita. In 2011, China’s GDP per capita was estimated at US$8,382 PPP (purchasing power parity) per capita.

But China will make an even greater leap forward if it moves ahead with what I am advocating: the creation of an economy founded on the principles that the goal of economic development is the optimization of the well-being of the communities that make up the nation, in harmony with nature’s ability to remain resilient and flourish.

One way of achieving this is to advance a new monetary system in which the creation of money is connected to xiaokang society objectives and ecological civilization. Under that scenario, its central bank, the Bank of China, would create money without interest charges, thus helping to finance the five capital assets of China and helping to finance a living wage for all Chinese workers.

Are current wages sufficient to provide a reasonable standard of living for the average Chinese citizen in alignment with China’s xiaokang society objectives? No. Many Chinese labourers are making less than 1000 RMB ($1.00/hr) and fail to earn enough to achieve a good life.

But China could become the first model of an economy of well-being by determining a level of GDP per capita that is explicitly linked to ensuring the improved and sustained well-being of its 1.3 billion people. It might become a model of zero growth, at least in terms of total GDP, yet maintain a standard of living that is related to a constant or steady state of GDP per capita. The key would be for China to maintain the well-being conditions of its human, social, built-up and natural capital assets while ensuring that liabilities to well-being are mitigated or eliminated.

China faces serious problems, including the growing gap between rural poor and the urban rich. It recognizes that rising inequality poses the greatest threat to its pursuit of a xiaokang society. It has acknowledged the challenge of corruption within the Communist Party.

It also faces enormous environmental challenges. But the adoption of the ‘ecological civilization’ concept as a key pillar in its long-range economic development strategy would be akin to Canada and the U.S. giving constitutional rights to the environment.

Few in the west appreciate the importance of its strategic move to adopt Lincoln’s model for banking and money creation, taken during the time of the overthrow of the Qing dynasty by Sun Yat Sen and his Nationalists. The move means that China can effectively control the issuance of money and credit through its central bank in concert with state-controlled commercial banks without the same interest costs that are currently crippling western economies.

Mark Anielski is a partner and co-founder of Genuine Wealth, a Canadian enterprise whose mission is to help businesses, communities and nations mature into flourishing economies and enterprises of well-being. He was a senior economic advisor to China between 2003 and 2006.



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An economy of love

The Economy of Love

My vision for an economy of love may best be described as a genuine economy (economy comes from the Greek words oikos (household) nomia (stewardship)) that will replace the current economic system based on the lie of scarcity, GDP and profit maximization, the fear of tomorrow, debt-money, materialism/consumerism, and the love of money.

The new model — an economy of love — will be characterized as a flourishing economy of well-being, love and communion. This new model will be based on the truth of abundance of genuine wealth (defined in terms of ‘the conditions of well-being’ from the 13th Century Old English), the power of love, sufficiency of material needs, optimizing well-being returns on investment in human, social and natural capital, virtuous actions, reciprocity, genuine justice and genuine happiness (from the Greek eudaemonia which literally means ‘spiritual well-being.’

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On Happiness: Creative Mornings Edmonton January 11 2013

On January 11, 2013 I presented the following thoughts and ideas on the subject of Happiness to Creative Mornings Edmonton.

What is Creative Mornings? Every month in major cities around from New York to Madrid to Edmonton hosts, videographers, photographers, and helpers come together, in their respective cities, to discuss an important subject.

The global theme for January 2013 was Happiness.

Here is my presentation

January 2013 – Mark Anielski from CreativeMornings/EDM on Vimeo.

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Redesigning Money to Serve Economies of Well-being and Happiness

On April 12, 2012 I presented the following paper “Redesigning Money to Serve Economies of Well-being and Happiness” at a conference on Creating Money in a Finite World at the Claremont School of Theology, with my mentor John Cobb Jr. (co-author of For the Common Good, with Herman Daly), Ellen Brown (attorney and author of The Web of Debt), ecological economist Josh Farley, and others.

The paper builds on a similar proposal I made April 2, 2012 at the United Nations in New York at a high-level meeting, hosted by the Prime Minister of Bhutan, on developing a new economic paradigm based on wellbeing and happiness. I presented a similar proposal to George Soros and Ciao Koch-Weser (Vice Chairman of Deutsche Bank) at the World Economic Forum in Davos, Switzerland in 2011.

In this paper I explore the potential redesign of the world’s money and banking system such that the creation of money is no longer in the form of unrepayable debt (with compounding interest costs) but aligned with the goal of optimizing well-being and happiness for a good life. I proposed the money creation could be aligned with well-being and happiness, using the Genuine Wealth Model. This would align with Abraham Lincoln’s vision who said in 1865:

“Money is the creature of law, and the creation of the original issue of money should be maintained as the exclusive monopoly of national government. …The monetary needs of increasing numbers of people advancing towards higher standards of living can and should be met by the government. Such needs can be met by the issue of national currency and credit through the operation of a national banking system. The circulation of a medium of exchange issued and backed by the government can be properly regulated and redundancy of issue avoided by withdrawing from circulation such amounts as may be necessary by taxation, re-deposit and otherwise. Government, possessing the power to create and issue currency and credit as money…need not and should not borrow capital at interest….The financing of all public enterprises, the maintenance of stable government and ordered progress, and the conduct of the Treasury will become matters of practical administration…Money will cease to be the master and become the servant of humanity. Democracy will rise superior to the money power.”

In this global debt crisis it is time for courageous leaders that would follow in the steps of the practical wisdom of Lincoln.

Redesigning Money to Serve Economies of Wellbeing

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Mark speaks about The Pursuit of Happiness and Building Economies of Well-being in TIME Magazine October 22, 2012

In the October 22, 2012 edition of TIME magazine (Business Section), the Pursuit of Happiness and Bhutan’s efforts to advance a new economic paradigm based on well-being and happiness (Gross National Happiness) was profiled including our work on developing Genuine Progress Indicators and building economies of well-being in Edmonton, Leduc and Alberta.

In the article my work, along with others such as Joseph Stiglitz (former chief economist of the World Bank and advisor to France on developing new measures of progress), is profiled.

‘The pace is picking up in Canada, where the province of Alberta and the city of Edmonton have supported the development of the Canadian Index of Wellbeing. It’s similar to Bhutan’s GNH Index, but instead of using survey questions, Canadian researchers created a composite of 64 existing statistics, including work hours and  incidence of violent crime, that are considered proxies for various components of well-being. “We didn’t ask Canadians how they feel,” says Mark Anielski, who led the project. Once countries start measuring well-being, it isn’t clear how they should use the data. In Edmonton, the new well-being index is intended simply as another data point to guide long-range strategic planning. At most, “we start to pay attention to inequality of well-being,” Anielski says.’

I believe the world is on the cusp of a major economic paradigm shift from a narrow focus of economic growth (GDP) and profits, to one based on optimizing well-being. I am about to travel to China (Harbin and Shanghai) to encourage China to pursue a new economic vision of an economy of well-being, building on their economic model of a Xiaokang society (a Confucian term meaning a society of moderation). In July 2012 I travelled to Tahiti (French Polynesia) encouraging this beautiful South Pacific community to adopt a new economic of well-being paradigm.

The Pursuit Of Happiness – TIME Oct 22, 2012

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