Another book about the future of the world, this time linked to the
way in which money creates the possibility for progress. It could
be a dull affair, but it isn't. It is well-written, well-organized
and essentially optimistic. The author reviews current change and
the strains being put on the financial system worldwide. He shows
how such things can be coped with, indeed how opportunities exist
to take things forward, building on existing practices to create a
money system that works and which will give us the society that we
want. Lietaer's review is in the context of the current big issues.
The first is the recent, and inherent, instability of monetary
matters (witness the recent problems in South East Asia), and the
interdependence of economies. The second is current demographic
changes, particularly the increasing proportion of the population
that are older and, not least, how money can suppport the needs of
old age. Thirdly, and perhaps inevitably, there is a link with
information technology: a revolution that may fuel unemployment as
traditional jobs disappear. Lastly, climate and environmental
change and the question of balancing long-term conservation with
short-term financial pressures are fitted into the total picture.
The book sets out to demystify today's conventional national and
international money systems and the way they are changing. It then
focuses on the changes in train and choices that must be made for
the future in an era of jobless growth. For a serious study, the
book is particularly accessible. It has cartoons to make a point
and raise a smile; more importantly it has regular 'asides' -
stories and examples that link what is being discussed to the nitty
gritty of the real world - that act usefully to exemplify the case
being made. A linked television series is due to follow. (Kirkus
Based on the four mega-trends of monetary instability, global greying (an ageing global population), the information revolution, and climate change and species extinction, Bernard Lietaer looks at different scenarios of what the world might be like in 2020.
1. The Corporate Millennium: governments are disbanded, central banks close down and the world is run with Big Brother control by huge corporations with their own currencies.
2. Caring Communities: people retreat into small, self-sustaining communities, like tribes.
3. Hell on Earth: in which the breakdown of life as we know it is followed by a highly individualistic free-for-all, resulting in an ever more obscene gulf between rich and poor.
4. Sustainable Abundance: envisages a world where we take better care of the environment, re-engage the poor and the unemployed in mainstream society and give back time and fulfilment to the over-worked, while providing the elderly with a high level of personal care. A society of sustainable abundance is achievable - but only if we are willing to re-invent our money system and create new currencies.
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