HomeEnglish BlogDebt relief: The role of Money
An extract from the writings of Joseph van Keulen

Debt relief is about money, so we should perhaps first start to discuss the role of money. Money is an interesting subject as it has embedded in itself a full history of the human development and can help us to understand some of the fundamental dynamics of our time and the direction in which things are likely to go. However money has always been and will always remain a means to an end, an outcome of a process. As soon as we do things for money we have in fact lost the plot and destroyed the essence of what we try to achieve. (Systems theory and the theory of abundance can help explain why)

We could look at money as human energy in a temporary material form. In the context of national economics we could look at money as the blood flow of a country if we were to perceive and see the country as a ‘fully functioning body’ and the community of countries/ nations as the Human family. Taking vast amounts of money out of a country is in such a case like tapping off a lot of blood and placing it in a blood bank and saying to the patient this is ours and anyway we do not think we can trust you to take good care of it. So we will keep your blood under our control. From an institutional perspective like the World Bank or G8 we might add: “Until you are better and healthy enough to be worthy of your own blood or strong enough to work for it” we will use to the benefit of our own bodies”. If we were to accept such a model as a relevant representation the question of debt relief, then the issue of debt relief would, I am sure, be settled very quickly indeed. What would however not be answered quickly is the question: how did the excessive debt occur in the first place? How can we prevent it happening again and again?

One common form of excessive debt built up in short periods of time is by: Gross forms of corruption and bribery by (often democratically elected) rulers and leading business interests in a country. I am talking here only about the Billion Dollar plus cases.

The development of the universal ability to trade money, modern banking practices, commodity and currency trading, speculation and the generally increased obsession with money as a sole measure of success and value have made this phenomenon much more serious than in the past. Throughout the ages we have seen corruption and stealing at a grand scale by rulers and people in power. Their ability to export their ill-gotten riches were often however limited and from a national economic perspective the funds remained in the country itself and remained part of the national economic system. In modern times this is however no longer the case since these funds are easily transferred to ‘safe heavens’ and the world money centers. As a result the damage done to the countries concerned is much more serious and the resulting suffering from such ills is much larger and more severe than it ever was before. Given the nature of the problem there now is a case to call such practices crimes against humanity. Countries where their national debt is roughly equal to the recently gathered fortunes in billions of dollars (stashed away in bank vaults and stock markets in the west) of one or a few families are cases where international law should start to take a position and reclaim some of those moneys to give it back to the people it was stolen from.

The countries that have given or are considering debt relief could take it upon themselves as part of that process to take the lead in this recovery process. Even if these actions might in the beginning not produce very spectacular results it would still send very powerful signals to those engaged in those practices. All families, clans and syndicates involved in the exportation of stolen monies might no longer be and thus feel safe abroad. This thread alone might result in a lot more self-restraint and a shift of priorities as to where to put their monies. In fact the purpose should be that the safest place to hide away stolen monies should be the community from which it was stolen in the first place. There and then it would be a matter of local law and customs if and how and when they would want to deal with these facts.

To put the above in perspective we have to remember that the nobility of many western countries were the one-time robbers and corrupt rulers of the same territories in days gone by. They now form the elite however. Accelerating the conversion of poachers into gamekeepers might be a much better and much more affective strategy than fighting them. In general one can say that fighting them, creates many innocent victims and tends to only sharpen their operation and increases the problem.

What we also have to stop however is that international money centers remain effective shelters of such vast fortunes without any risks to the guilty. It asks however a different morality from US, UK, Switzerland, the EU and other governments to indeed extradite individuals who have committed such crimes to their country of origin if the same individuals threaten to withdraw their billions of dollars from such economies in case of extradition. Currently the thread to pull out the moneys is enough to stop the extradition processes. An alternative would be to set up a UN backed court along similar lines to the European Court in Strasbourg or the criminal court in The Hague.

The second most common form of major debt is the result of too easily financed major capital projects which, if analyzed knowingly and affectively should never have proceeded in the form they did. They also tended to become major vehicles to disburse bribery funds through their contracting structures and had in most cases no sound local economic rational. Financial institutions carry in many instances a major co-responsibility for the creation of such debt.

…………..to be continued in my next book

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